Monday, May 28, 2012

In Honor of Memorial Day

In honor on Memorial Day, this afternoon I'll be taking the boys to Greenwood to visit the graves of our loved ones and to place a flag on my grandfather's grave; he was at Pearl Harbor on the USS Ward which fired the first American shots of World War II at a Japanese submarine an hour before the actual attack began.

In honor of this Memorial Day, I'm posting the "Poem of the Day":

The Battle Hymn of the Republic 
by Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,Since God is marching on." 

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment-seat:
O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

So let us remember those who have sacrificed, who have "died[d] to make men free," this day and always.

Praying for our country daily,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost and Quotation of the Week

Today marks the final holy day of Eastertide. Eastertide lasts for fifty days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost...which is today.

We read about the events of Pentecost in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles:
"When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Peter then gives a sermon on Pentecost, declaring Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and telling his listeners:
"Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
The people respond in horror as they were "cut to the heart," and they beg Peter, "What shall we do?' Peter replies,
"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  
Remember, Peter's speech occurs within a mere two months since Jesus' death and resurrection, and the people finally realize what they have done: they have helped to condemn not only an innocent man but the Son of God.

The Collect for Pentecost from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 reads:
O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Ref: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)

As I thumbed through my decade of quotations in my Quotation Journal, I came across this gem about living our lives for Christ:

"But those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit sail even while they sleep."
--Brother Lawrence,  The Practice of the Presence of God

So let us sail forth in the Spirit of our Lord Christ, ready to love as Christ loves as we go about our daily lives in His Holy Presence.

Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Positively Buried

I apologize for not posting much this semester. But life has been crazy, and I have been positively buried.

In fact, I don't remember ever quite being THIS crazy-busy before.

Since the first of the year, I have been teaching solidly for Brave Writer with classes back-to-back-to-back. I've taught family-style workshops on grammar and poetry composition, and am now teaching a family workshop on Shakespeare, exploring his life and times, his language and poetry, and giving an overview of his plays: comedies, histories, and tragedies.

Then I taught literary analysis classes on Alcott's Little Women and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Those classes take the most time and effort as I have to respond to dozens of student postings per day. It's fun but exhausting.

So the current Shakespeare class is my fifth Brave Writer class in five months. Wow.

Then on Thursday, my writing students at Heritage Christian School (our home school PSP) co-op Class Days submitted their MLA research essays. My Advanced Writing students turned in essays of 7-10 pages while the rest of the class is submitting 5-7 page essays. The time-consuming part is checking the students' sources, making certain that their quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are correctly done. Thus, I spend about two hours grading each essay. And I have only a week to grade all the essays and compute their final course grades (which is simplified greatly by using Engrade) as our final Class Day is May 31.

Add to that the fact that I'm still homeschooling the three boybarians and am in the midst of writing a serial novel that requires weekly chapter updates, plus taking care of the home front, and you have one buried ME.

So once we enter June, I should be back to a more regular posting schedule here. Thanks for your patience!!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Teachers' Day

My friend Teddy, whom I've known since second grade, posted a tribute to teachers on Facebook, so tonight I had to rifle through the archives here at Meditative Meanderings and dig up my favorite posts on teachers.

Being a teacher myself, first at University of San Diego, then at Point Loma Nazarene University, and now to my own kids as a homeschooling mom (who literally ran crying from the house on Elizabeth's first day of kindergarten and begged my husband to let me go back to PLNU and teach Chaucer again--now she's a Literature Major at PLNU, so I guess we did okay), I was inspired by all of my teachers from first grade onward. Now I teach writing to high schoolers at Heritage Christian School's co-op Class Days (and medieval history this year, too--please don't ask why I volunteered for that one! It was a weak moment!), plus literary analysis, creative writing, poetry, grammar, Shakespeare, and the MLA research essay online at Brave Writer (where I am currently up to my eyeballs in The Merchant of Venice).

One of my very few reservations about home education is that my own life has been so strongly influenced by many incredible, dedicated, impassioned teachers, and I feel like I am depriving our children of that bond between teacher and student that can change a student's life--that changed MY life.

From Miss Beal in first grade--not a beautiful woman but one who was self-possessed, unflappable, and unstintingly kind, to third grade with Miss Wells (later Mrs. Reynolds) with her hip blond shag and her permission to play records from home while we worked ("Puff the Magic Dragon" always brings memories of multiplication tables and "Sunshine on My Shoulders" of discovering the true delight of reading story after story after story), my elementary years were more about teachers than students. I was painfully shy, often picked upon by playground bullies. But I had a few friends to play hopscotch and jacks with--so I managed to survive. I was bright but not bright enough to be moved to the "smart class."

In fourth and fifth grades I discovered one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Glen Paul. An avid outdoorsman who spent summers fishing in Wyoming and Montana, Mr. Paul knew how to handle a class with aplomb and the appearance of freedom, occasionally resorting to the dreaded boy-girl-boy-girl seating arrangement when we took advantage of his kindness. I remember most clearly coming in, sweaty and breathless from afternoon recess and dropping into our seats, welcoming the coming quiet and peace of being read aloud to. With overhead lights off, Mr. Paul would open a book and read us a chapter from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Harriet the Spy, or The Great Brain. While his pleasant tenor voice read, we all caught our breath and often rested our heads on our arms, allowing the cool wood-grained formica of our desks to soothe our overheated faces.

Fridays were the best days, though. After math and reading, we were allowed to do art for the rest of the day and to have the entire afternoon to play outside--an extended recess. And just before we were let free for the weekend, we were allowed to rearrange our desks into any configuration we liked. We all loved gentle Mr. Paul who took such joy in science experiments, who brought in special art teachers for us, who taught us how to draw in perspective, who was an environmentalist long before it was "cool." During my 7th and 8th grade years, I came back to Mr. Paul's classroom as a teacher's aid, walking across the wide asphalt playground between the elementary and middle schools each day to grade spelling tests and math worksheets, carefully recording the grades in his blue grade book.

In eighth grade, I discovered one of my favorite teachers of all time: Millard Stanforth who taught English and American History. He passed away two years ago from Lou Gehrig's in his early 80's, and I was his only former student invited to attend the celebration of his life. I wrote about him here: Mr. Stanforth. From Mr. Stan I learned a love of both the English language and of American History--so much so that I wrote a research paper on The Battle of Gettysburg that received a perfect grade. When I graduated as Valedictorian from the middle school, Mr. Stan handed me my award at our graduation ceremony.

Then after I moved up to the high school across the street, I daily walked across the dew-damped soccer fields of Kennedy Park to be a teacher's assistant to Mr. Stan during 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. While at Granite Hills High School, I met an incredible trio of English teachers: Roberta (Bobbi) Jordan, Bea Jones, and Peter Sebastian. Mrs. Jordan was my freshman English teacher, and with her we walked through many of the short stories I now teach: "The Cask of Amontillado" by Poe, "The Most Dangerous Game" by Connell, "The Necklace" by Maupassant--all of which I've taught in an online Literary Analysis Class at Brave Writer. Mrs. Jordan wanted me to move up to the honors English track, and when I refused, she called my mother behind my back and wedged me into that AP class against my will--and to my benefit.

Mrs. Jordan also taught an elective course in Shakespeare that stands me in excellent stead as I teach Shakespeare courses at Brave Writer each May, one class to families and one to high school students; I always loved how she would insist on taking the juiciest parts for herself when we read the plays aloud in class--she was so passionate about the Bard, even to having us draw names and handmaking a gift in honor of Shakespeare's April 23rd birthday. From Mrs. Jones I learned to write a solid essay, despite papers bleeding with red inked corrections--and also learned to appreciate Dickens. And Mr. Sebastian taught me a passionate love of poetry as he leaned back in his chair reciting Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Poe by heart. He also taught me how to write poems, and my first verse was published in Granite Hills' literary magazine Reflections which I edited my senior year; my poetry also appeared in our yearbook as well. Because of the influence of these three passionate teachers, I knew I would also teach literature and poetry...some day.

My engagement to Keith occurred at our high school's senior prom, and I remember the concern in Mrs. Jordan's and Mrs. Jones' faces when I flashed my ring; they were afraid I wouldn't attend college and "have a life." But one can do both: I married Keith at the end of my freshman year at Point Loma Nazarene University, and in the Literature Department there I met my next group of incredible teachers: Art Seamans, the Romantic; Jim DeSaegher, the consummate editor, and also outside of the Literature Department I discovered kindred spirits in Dwayne Little in American History and Sam Powell in religion and philosophy. My senior year brought me another teacher, a mentor in fact, in Maxine Crain Walker, the professor who gently kicked my butt into graduate school--an option I never would have considered without her nudgings.

In graduate school at the University of San Diego, I found a couple more of those incredible teachers in Dr. Elizabeth Walsh, known affectionately as Sister Betsy to all and sundry, a tiny nun who received her doctorate from Harvard, and lesser influences in Joanne Dempsey (who passed away during our Milton seminar) and in Irene Williams who taught me a whole new way to write--exploratory, rather than academic, as a way to open us to fresh perspectives. Sister Betsy employed me as her research assistant, and together we worked on a project that was eventually published: Light of Learning: The Selected Essays of Morton W. Bloomfield.

And since graduate school I have discovered other teachers and mentors: Sue Edwards in developing my faith at Lake Murray Community Church, Judith Dupree and Kathryn Belsey in developing both faith and poetry, and online friends in Julie, Carol, Eve, Susan, Beth, Tia, Rachel, Carolyn, Lisa, Dalissa, Carrie, Sandy, Sandie, Suzy, Devin, and others who have taught me more than I can ever express.

Teachers are everywhere--in our childhood memories, in painful pubescent growth spurts, in fond college days, in grad school stress, and in years of young motherhood, now in the present, and, I pray, far into the future....

We only have to be teachable....


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