Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ancora Imparo

"Philology. . . the love and knowledge of words. . . It is well we should become aware of what we are doing when we speak, of the ancient, fragile, and (well used) immensely potent instruments that words are."
C.S. Lewis, STUDIES IN WORDS
Although this year will certainly be my 12th year of school (if I could only believe it!) it will definitely not be the end of my studies, and so I refuse to lament. The reason I didn't use the word education (instead of school) in the last sentence, as I was going to, was because my education -- in theology, literature, culture, philosophy et cetera -- has been going on much longer than that.

From my earliest years I have been taught, above all, a love of learning, for its own sake and to better appreciate the intricate order and beauty that God has woven into every sphere of life. Our God is a creator and an artist whose divine beauty is reflected in all that he gives. Every day was a learning experience: how to see, how to love, how to think about life and its meaning. By the time my actual schooling came along, my mind was filled with the tracks, as Motherdy puts it, for the train to run on. The trains of wisdom, understanding, world-view, and salvation. I am so blessed!

Then, starting with those essentials such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, all of us children were encouraged to reach out and learn all we could, and expand the horizons of our minds, especially in the spheres that interested us most. For this reason, our courses of study were always slightly different than that of our siblings, but full of overlap and influence. For instance, most of what I know about the study of birds and animals, as well as the medical field can be accredited to my older brother Will; my intricate knowledge of World War II aircraft I owe chiefly to my younger (no longer little ;) brother Ben.

The list could of course go on interminably. A great many arts and interests are enjoyed by our entire family, and so have grown up with and in our home, contributing and molding our home culture and traditions. Music has always been integral and constant in everyday life; when we were very young Dad played guitar in the evenings, or Mama would sing hymns until we fell asleep. We have sung three and four-part harmony together since we were very small indeed, gathered around the piano or dinner-table, crowded into the kitchen washing piles of dishes, or perhaps all piled into the van for a long drive.

Literature, like music, has had an enormous and varied part to play in our day-to-day life. We are connoisseurs of picture-books -- A.A. Milne and Kenneth Grahame are choice favorites; anyone in our family can quote you P.G. Wodehouse or C.S. Lewis, and on any given day you may hear us quote from sources as diverse as Augustine, Churchill, Dickens, and Shakespeare.

Our interests are varied and spread liberally over different countries, languages, and eras. History (deeply ingrained by great literature) has played a large part and influenced our normal conversations and vocabulary. Only once in a while you notice how much . . .

A few years ago I was sitting on the floor admiring Katie's button collection, and suddenly I hold up one with a curious design and say "Hey, look. Doesn't this look like the amphitheatre in Petra?" . . . yes, the ancient and extinct city made in stone . . . Katie burst out laughing. "Well yes, it does," she agreed.  Not to say she hasn't found herself trying to explain the Oracles of Delphi to the guys at Napa . . .

 I just have to laugh at our happy, eclectic mixture sometimes, but I must say I am so thankful to God and to my family for the widely artistic learning atmosphere of our life. A huge portion of the acknowledgements for our family atmosphere and education go to my very dear mother and teacher. Thank you, Motherdy, for hours of reading aloud, for a house full of books, for beautiful globes that are a pleasure to pore over; thank you, above all, for teaching me how to learn and teach myself whatever I need to learn, so that wherever I am for the rest of my life, I can learn new things, experience new beauties, and expand my many branched and ever-growing tree of knowledge. In the words of the illustrious Shakespeare, "Thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks!"

And you know what our beloved Jack says about philosophy and art . . .It is the richness of 'those things which give value to survival' that you have filled our home and education with, to give it such depth and pleasure. The more I learn, the more I see what a vast sea learning is. There is so much more than I could ever ingest in a lifetime. And because God is infinite, we will never come to the end of his marvelous beauties. It makes me ache for heaven, where we will see with new eyes . . . I'm so glad learning is forever.

yours truly,

 . . . an eclectic life-long autodidact



Wealth

Wrote this a few years ago, I think . . .
The wealth of words when spoken well
Knowledge of how to rightly tell
The depth of stories true

Our histories to read and know
Teaching us now how to grow
And what things not to do

A pretty sight: a lettered page
In any form or any stage
When lettered words are good

The power in words chosen, to flow
In meaning, strength and on to go
Once hundred years withstood

Big 'words to build a house with', yes
A house of knowledge nonethelss
Material to guard

Great words of use, integrity
Of substance, wisdom, true beauty
Sometimes these things are hard

Knowledge of cities, times and deeds
Far places known by one who reads
And still much more to know

The way some writers can describe!
Like art a painbrush might inscribe
By words arranged just so

Those rolling hills and lofty peaks
Or prairie grass; a pipe that leaks
Description makes them clear

The books with wealth of learning, new
And those that send us laughing, too
Are always to us dear

By far the greatest thing to learn
Is more of Jesus and to yearn
To please Him with the rest

For He created all of this
The learning, and we should not miss
To learn the very best

4 comments:

Jodi said...

I really do believe you are brilliant. By the way, is there a way to follow this blog?

Olivia said...

Hello Jodi!
Thank you always for your encouragement.
On my computer there is a 'follow' button on the top left-hand corner of the page when you look at my blog. I 'followed' myself to see if it works, and it did! I hope this works for you!

Melissa said...

{Olivia Grace} Such a treasure you are. Words cannot tell how you've blessed and encouraged me with this blog post. I thank you. It's been a deep and abiding joy to live this learning life alongside such a mind and heart as yours.

Your poem is exquisite. Better even with each rereading. I love you.

Motherdy

Mrs.Rabe said...

Dear Olivia,

Happy Birthday! This is a beautiful post, and such an encouragement to a home educating mother's heart. You have a beautiful way with words....

Deanna