“You are the God who works wonders…” —Psalm 77:14
While the desire to ponder God in one’s heart is a grace from God, the ability to reflect on God’s love and how He weaves all things together develops over time as a child of God encounters and contemplates the good, the true, and the beautiful in daily life.
I’ve witnessed this in my own home. We are by nature a boisterous, crude bunch of folks, ’tis true! I’ve jokingly referred to our family table as more of a rowdy mead hall or rough hunting lodge than the orderly monastic atmosphere after which I try to pattern our days. However, I, like St. Margaret of Scotland who brought culture through the arts to a land of rough people, as queen of our castle, am tasked with “civilizing a rough and wild people,” as it were. It seems that steeping our days in good, true, and beautiful things has a deep and lasting effect on the lives of those who dwell there and those we interact with in community.
Some days it is a simple yet challenging task to present a work of art to ponder, lead everyone around the table in standing for the daily Gospel reading, sing a sacred hymn during morning time, or coax the unwilling to at least whisper along with the memory work poem of the term. So often I have wanted to throw up my hands as one of my flock shoves an elbow at another during a Latin prayer and simply say, “Forget it!” But I no longer fall into despair, because I, as a student of classical education myself, am better able to make connections and reflect on the diamond-in-the-rough moments from the past two years. Because of focusing on wonder, contemplation, and the liberal arts, I can now remember…
I remember the wonder and awe I’ve witnessed over the past year as my children notice a flower with its petals unfolding in a numerical pattern or make connections themselves between the stars twinkling above and their wondrous order of the human atom with its mysterious orbits. Would I have even noticed had they not pointed it out to me as we lounged upon a family quilt?
I remember, after a particularly rowdy morning, time clapping rhythms and working through memorizing lines of Shakespeare, the moment when an eleven-year-old scribbled out these lines that popped into her mind:
“Little babe asleep so soft,
snoring quietly in the loft
long ago a babe lay in a manger
you are his little star much longer.
Little babe in meadow sweet
daisies blowing at your feet
laying down in the grass so green
You are softly dreaming.
Little babe, quiet and true
you are a little sparkle new
Shining bright in God’s eye
Loving him each day passes by.”
I remember the sacred solemnness each morning time during Advent when we recited the words to “People Look East” while facing the rising sun with candles lit, incense burning, coffee brewing, and bagels toasting.
I remember each child on Good Friday during three hours of quiet reading and reflection and the stillness of the words as they rang out across the dining room table, “It is finished.”
I remember a nine-year-old excitedly pointing out the similarities between the children’s version of The Odyssey and a fable we read online—a connection I had to stop and look up, because he remembered it all so much better than I.
I remember watching in amazement of God’s loving kindness as a fifteen-year-old transitioned from a secular, career-centered, public school system to a gentle, life-giving, classical, home-based program—amazed at the moment when she reflected back to the prior year and noted that she now felt content, loved, restful and full of plans for her future including travels overseas. Her recent decision to teach herself how to read, speak, and write Greek has been a success, because the environment of wonder allows her to dream and soak up the good things all around the home.
I remember from time to time to quietly point out that, when we now welcome friends in to share their loves and talents for art and music with our family on “fine arts Wednesdays,” we are each becoming artists like God who created all things.
I remember most of all the gratitude that overwhelms my soul during Holy Mass when our eyes light up because the choir has chosen a Latin hymn we know well, so we get to “pray twice” with strength and love.
I remember the baskets that have a home on our bookshelves—baskets labeled Shakespeare, logos, mythos, wonder in nature, memory (history), and morning liturgy—categorized in a way that makes sense of all the many wonderful resources that we get to explore as a family.
I remember to measure our day by how well and how much we have loved and accepted His love, no matter how difficult the journey, so tomorrow may be more rightly ordered as we gather to plead:
“At the dawn of a new day, fill us with your mercy,
—that the whole day may be a day of joy and praise.” —from Morning Prayers
And as for that rowdy crew around my table, we now break after our morning time liturgy with a fun new tradition of a family huddle with hands piled together, ending with a boisterous cheer of “Ite, Missa est!” which roughly (pun intended) means “The sending is complete; burst forth into the day!”
Kim Devers is a seasoned homeschooling mom and the director of a Scholé Group in Kentucky. Last summer, Kim joined a group of homeschooling parents from across the country in Dr. Perrin’s summer course, “Bringing Scholé to Your School and Homeschool,” to discuss the philosophy and practice of classical education and the scholé approach. Since then, Kim has been seeking to cultivate deep, restful learning in her homeschool and homeschool co-op. Read more from Kim at her blog: www.juniperandwillows.com.