A is for Acorn

IMG_1583I’ve been a bit missing in action for the last month or two, and for those of you who haven’t guessed, it’s all due to a bit of a recent career shift.  From here on out, if my posts start to sounding to you like those of a kindergarten teacher, you will be correct.  It’s an exciting new chapter for us, but a busy one, with lots of adjustments to new schedules and more time spent researching literature and art projects for unit studies than composing blog posts.  I hope to get back to posting more often eventually, but we’ll see!

Of course, I’ve always been my child’s teacher; that comes with the territory of parenting, as it does for every mother.  Who else will teach her how tie her shoes or to look both ways before crossing the road?  But choosing to be the one who also teaches her I-before-E-except-after-C (except for in a few odd cases, as I’ve been reminded!) and why mushrooms grow on trees, to take the full weight of responsibility for what the world calls her formal education, is another realm altogether.IMG_1491IMG_1464.JPGIt makes sense: who else in the whole world cares more about her success than I do?

It’s exciting: learning is an adventure I’ve always loved, and I can hardly wait to take her along to all manner of new and thrilling places.

It’s serious business: it will be my fault if some vital branch of learning isn’t covered.

That’s why my husband and I agreed that a few days retreat was in order for the teacher before this all officially commenced.  A working retreat, in which to lay out lesson plans and familiarize myself with workbooks, yes, but also to recharge myself for the important task ahead.

And the first thing I did along that order?  Take a hike.IMG_1527IMG_1449I sensed, going into the retreat, that my ideas were good but jumbled.  If you know anything about the world of home education, you know that the amount of resources available are both incredible and rather overwhelming.  I needed some vision to narrow my focus down from all those fabulous options to what would work best for us—and I always think most clearly while walking.  And if the walk winds through sun-dappled woodlands around the edge of a sparkling blue lake?  If there’s not a sound to be heard but the crunching of leaves beneath your feet and the wind in the oak tree tops?  All the better.

I took a book along, and on a short break, sitting in the warm grass with my back against a sturdy oak, I read these inspiring lines:

“Little by little,” an acorn said,
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed,
“I am improving every day,
Hidden deep in the earth away.”IMG_1469Little by little, each day it grew;
Little by little, it sipped the dew;
Downward it sent out a thread-like root;
Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.

Day after day, and year after year,
Little by little the leaves appear;
And the slender branches spread far and wide,
Till the mighty oak is the forest’s pride.

IMG_1457IMG_1506IMG_1517“Little by little,” said a thoughtful boy,
“Moment by moment, I’ll well employ,
Learning a little every day,
And not spending all my time in play.
And still this rule in my mind shall dwell,
Whatever I do, I will do it well.IMG_1542“Little by little, I’ll learn to know
The treasured wisdom of long ago;
And one of these days, perhaps, we’ll see
That the world will be the better for me”;
And do you not think that this simple plan
Made him a wise and useful man?”—Author Unknown

The acorns rolled under my feet as I hiked on, and the seed of vision had been planted that I was looking for.  Jumbled ideas melded into a plan in my head, and far-sighted goals broke down into the steps A, B and C that would get us there.

It was in honor of the role this poem played in my lesson planning process, that “A is for Acorn” was chosen as the topic of study for our very first week of school.  For my students, it would look like nature hikes to identify oak trees, and making leaf rubbings, and listening to delightful stories about squirrels who love acorns.  We would find out what acorns tasted like and learn about famous oaks of long ago.

But for I, the teacher, it would be an inspiring reminder that the great task I was beginning would be accomplished just like that of a humble acorn becoming a mighty tree: little by little.  Letter by letter, number by number, line by line, book by book, concept building on concept, my young students would put down foundational roots, reach for the sky, and grow strong and mighty into a wealth of skill, wisdom and knowledge.  And for what?  The goal of the poem seems quite adequate to me, that the world will be a better place for having them in it.IMG_1499“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

 

Did you know?

…that multiple people groups consider acorns a delicacy (Korean, Greek, Native American)?

…that acorns have frequently been used as a substitute for coffee?

…that the name of the nut is derived from the Gothic word akran, which means “fruit of the unenclosed land”?

…that one of the greatest visionary statements of the Old Testament was made beneath an oak tree?  Read about it in Joshua 24.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15)

 

End of Summer

IMG_9747 editThis morning, as the mid-morning sun was making the dew on the spider webs sparkle, I rode my bike down the bumpy gravel road to Sheryl’s house.  The bike trailer bounced behind me, heavy with my precious cargo of two little ones and a Bible tucked in the back pocket.  I hoped I had estimated how long the ride would take me correctly; I didn’t want to miss out on the sweet fellowship time beforehand!

This is the third summer we’ve spent studying the 23rd Psalm.  What precious times we’ve had together going slow through the beloved familiar passage, sometimes word by word, soaking it in, mining the depths of Scripture for quantities of treasure that we never dreamed could exist in the space of so few words.  And now it was all over until next year.  Today was the last day, our sweet weekly summer gathering coming to a close just as the calendar was gently finishing August.  The ditches were full of goldenrod and lavender clouds of asters, and the banks of ferns were curling up brown around their lacy edges.  Yes, my eyes told me, as I focused up on the landscape around me and away from the dusty road beneath my tires:  fall was really almost here.goldenrod / rejoicing hillsI’m really sorry to bid this summer adieu, because it’s been such a good one.  Beautiful fellowship with these dear sisters in Christ has been just one of the highlights of this season for me.  As I meditated back over the passage we had been studying, somehow the other happy memories and pictures of this summer seemed to intertwine in my mind with the words of the psalm.  And so in honor of the end of a glorious season and those precious weeks of study we savored together, I present this photographic essay of my summer and Psalm 23:

pie / rejoicing hillsThe Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…herd of cattle / rejoicing hillsHe maketh me to lie down in green pastures…pine over lake / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me beside the still waters…peaceful porch / rejoicing hillsHe restoreth my soul…country lane / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…IMG_7262 editI will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me…tiny bee on cosmos / rejoicing hillsThou preparedest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…droplet on petunia / rejoicing hillsThou anointest my head with oil;  my cup runneth over…summer sunset / rejoicing hillsSurely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Amen.