It seems we must be stripped
of the skin
of all we think beautiful
before we open to the kind of beauty
that can’t go away.
It seems sky must pour
and howl like it will never stop
before we notice the smile
of our own forever sun. It seems
we must hunt with starving
hungry eyes before we know
this belly is and has always been
full. It seems this wall
deep in the center must be hammered down
before we let soft, breathing hands
curl in around us. Each drop
of dark carries
with it a candle of holy
light—with each miracle breath
we are invited to turn toward
the nearest whispering spark
and, like momma bird sheltering her baby—like a pebble
in stream’s safe lap—
- “What I’ve Learned from the Dark” by Julia Fehrenbacher
I like to begin the school year with a theme. Last year it was “taking flight” and we studied birds. This year we began with the theme of exploration: “setting sail” with Swallows and Amazons and all things sailing and ships. I love planning these initial blocks. They set an intention and guide us along. Back in the summer, I talked about this theme of setting sail at Taproot. A wonderful exchange ensued, and we discussed how such a theme might manifest within our middle and high schoolers, but also in our own lives as well. At one point, Jean Miller said something that I wrote down in my journal: “Sometimes you have to drop anchor. Sometimes you need to turn back. And other times, you just need to keep sailing.”
So here we are just two and a half blocks into our year, and those words have rushed back into my memory. We are struggling. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. We were struggling – big time. No doubt about it. How we have homeschooled in the past just isn’t working anymore. I tried not to blame anyone or anything in specific, but I would be lying if I said I succeeded. I blamed Wyoming and myself. I blamed middle school and Vincent. And then I blamed the blasted nine-year change and Jude. That’s a pretty potent mix of three people on the edge of change! After trying for several weeks to simply stay the course, I finally admitted to myself that I wanted more from my days than solely homeschooling. During a rare quiet moment later that week, I could finally voice these feelings to Tom. I also shared with him the metaphors of dropping anchor, turning back and continuing to sail forward. I said I didn’t know what to do and secretly hoped he did. His response was completely unexpected: “Why not tread water for awhile?” I can picture the look on my face: furrowed brow, curled lip, squinty eyes. Tread water?! Jean didn’t say anything about abandoning ship and Tom damn well knows I don’t like the water.
And yet the question reverberates and remains: why not just tread water?
As I navigate and explore how to create more time for myself within our homeschooling journey, I’m trying to remain open to growth and possibility. I’m trying not project how this is going to manifest and what our days will look like in the near and distant future. Because the short and truthful answer is, I have absolutely no idea. And that is where I find myself: not knowing. Treading water. Holding my own. Trying to chart a way forward. Our days look a lot different than they have in the past. (I will post more details on that soon.) Are they perfect? No. (Is anything ever perfect?!) But it is working – better than it was anyhow, for now anyway. Homeschooling is quieter and easier. There is less yelling and less angst. I’m giving myself time and space for asking questions. I’m trusting answers will come in their own time. ♥S
*** As I was meditating on these words and all they imply, I thought back to this little scrap of a poem and the subsequent conversation in the comments section.
“How to Listen”
Tilt your head slightly to one side and lift
your eyebrows expectantly. Ask questions.
Delve into the subject at hand or let
things come randomly. Don’t expect answers.
Forget everything you’ve ever done.
Make no comparisons. Simply listen.
Listen with your eyes, as if the story
you are hearing is happening right now.
Listen without blinking, as if a move
might frighten the truth away forever.
Don’t attempt to copy anything down.
Don’t bring a camera or a recorder.
This is your chance to listen carefully.
Your whole life might depend on what you hear.
- Joyce Sutphen
Great living book lists.
We currently have afternoon story time almost every day, but I am thinking of adding Poetry Teatime to our week.
Susannah has some lovely words about tattoos. (Still thinking of getting one myself.)
Cynthia Hoven has created a eurythmy website. Check it out. (Plus she is coming to NC in a few weeks to teach two workshops. You know I’ll be there!)
I purchased a membership to Wardeh’s Traditional Cooking School. I hope to learn more about soaking grains, cheese making and sourdough.
Have you seen this post by Carrie? And this one by Mrs. Mallard? Both speak honestly about the demands of homeschooling and the desire to balance the self. I have been struggling with these issues as well and find their words comforting.
Found this treasure trove of Charlotte Mason resources.
I think Ben Hewitt is my new favorite blogger. I love what he has to say, but more than that, I love how he says it.