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“Let Nothing Trouble You”: The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila, by Francois Gerard. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Teresa of Avila, by Francois Gerard. Photo credit: Wikipedia

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end . . . Hope, O my soul, hope. You can know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes away quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain and turns a very short time into a long one.”St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

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more than honey

The bee-lover in me simply had to reblog this post from Sigrun. Bees are extraordinarily beautiful creatures, often overlooked as merely ordinary. Hoping to raise awareness of their beauty and total necessity.

sub rosa

political art (cont.):

 

 

More Than Honey (2012) 

The documentary More than Honey is an in-depth look at honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia. Without the pollination provided by honey bees an incalculable amount of the food we eat would simply not be produced. Oscar-nominated documentary maker Marcus Imhoof – grandson of a professional beekeeper – investigates this critical issue in More than Honey.

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Beauty Break: Music For Your Ears, Part III

Persephone Writes

I love John Keats‘s slow melancholy in his “Ode to a Nightingale“. Nostalgia rings steadfastly through the work and brings to mind a sure sense of loss over things that are no more coupled with an abiding gratitude for fine memories and the beautiful sensations they evoke. The nostalgia, the memories, serve as a balm for the weary soul crushed by the hard exile of life. And so the poem, for me, is an eminently spiritual one and soothes when read aloud well.

Keats trained as a physician before giving up medicine to write poetry full time and he expressed the sense that poetry should be a healing force in the world. Thus, it must be beautiful and touch what ails man, namely his soul. Benedict Cumberbatch’s reading of the poem suggests he understands and appreciates Keats’s sense of beauty as a healing solace. Close your eyes…

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I just put this up on my Persephone Writes blog, but also wanted to share it here on one tiny violet because the drawings are simply lovely. To those of you who read both my blogs, I apologize for the double-take!

Persephone Writes

It was love at first sight when I saw these brightly colored, whimsical literary note cards created by Veronica at Paper Dali. Maybe its just that some of my very favorite authors made the cut — Poe, O’Connor, Austen, Bronte…… (sigh).

I thought it would be fun to attach one of these little cards to a book by the same author as a lovely Valentine’s Day — or anytime — gift. Cut up and attached to card stock, they’d make great book marks for a book group or class of literature/creative writing students. Or maybe matte and frame the entire sheet and use it to add a little literary bling to that “room of your own” you’ve been meaning to fix up — that’s what I’m going to do with mine!

While browsing Veronica’s site, I also found this poster and was simply charmed. I remember day-dreaming about Heathcliff

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Recovering A Sense Of Awe

Snowflake

They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it? — Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

Rae Spencer has the most interesting yard of anyone I know — and her gifts as a nature photographer enable her to share these wonders with others. Rae’s gorgeous posts remind me to keep my eyes open when I spend time in my own back yard. Too often, perhaps, the beauty right under our noses escapes us because we fail to pay attention. This weekend, try to find something beautiful in your own place. Here’s a recent post from Rae’s menagerie to inspire you! 🙂

Rae Spencer

Yesterday morning the rabbits crowded into the opening of their nest, obviously bothered by the heat. After an afternoon thunderstorm blew through, two of the babies couldn’t resist the cool, wet grass. They spent over an hour exploring, which gave me plenty of time to catch a few photos and video clips…

At first, they stayed in the long grass immediately surrounding the nest. After a while, they grew bold enough to cross an expanse of shorter grass and investigate the ginger lilies and fence.

They returned before twilight, but I doubt they’ll spend many more nights in the nest.

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A Total Loss?

When I was a little girl, I suppose I enjoyed school. I have a lot of memories and none of them are particularly horrible, though there are some I’d rather forget. I don’t remember getting in trouble too often — mostly I was disciplined for being, as one teacher I dearly loved put it, “too loquacious,” which you can read as “talkative.”

Nothing was ever too terribly difficult — except for math, which was maddening and frightened me generally because I am very slow about some things and often need time to think and so could not keep up with the pace of learning new concepts. I liked reading ever so much more, because I had time to think and process. And if I didn’t quite get something right off, well, then I could go back and read it again,. And I could ponder things while I read and have the leisure to make connections and think about them and see things along a sort of continuum, I suppose. This was the same whether I was reading for history, or science, or just a book of literature. And then, unlike math where there was ever only one right answer, words could mean different things just by the way they were used or punctuated in a sentence, and a single word could evoke an entire picture or even a story in one’s mind that, for me, numbers and their sentence-like equations simply failed to do. I think after all I probably enjoyed school because it was so very word-based. I love words and language and was an accomplished speller and writer all through my elementary and high school years. It’s probably no surprise then that I became an English and writing teacher.

One thing I remember loving about school is the Read-a-thon. These were randomly infrequent occurrences during the glory days of the RIF literacy movement where we were given practically the entire day to read a book of our choice! Now, was it the entire day, or just a portion of it? Who knows! To any child under the age of 18, the school day in its entirety seems interminable and time is an illusion. For all I know, we were only given an hour after lunch — but in my mind, I remember being given hours to just sit quietly and read, in school! No tests, no math worksheets, so spelling book pages……just the bliss of getting lost in whatever book I happened to be in love with at the moment. I used to anticipate these days with great eagerness. Our teacher reminded us repeatedly beforehand not to forget to bring our books for the read-a-thon. I seem to remember we had to run the book by her first — it had to be a real book, not a magazine or a comic book, but something with a story that would demand our sustained attention over a period of time. Beyond that, whatever we chose was up to us. I remember being excited and thrilled. We were in school and we were reading all day and it was OK with the teacher. We were free. Amazing…..

Which brings me to today.

Skippy and I were both nursing a serious fatigue hang-over after an incredibly busy and active weekend. On top of that, I had to work this morning. Typically on days when I work, Skippy gets a schedule with all of the school work he can do independently and we both just work quietly on our own. Once I’m finished with my project, then he and I will spend the afternoon doing the things I need to “teach” him. But today didn’t quite work out like that. Both of us were wrangling with brain fog and drowsiness. He made a valiant attempt at his list, but then quickly moved to the two items that demanded the least amount of “effort” — his reading assignments. Before you knew it, we were in full read-a-thon mode. He was throughly engrossed in his books and just didn’t want to stop reading. When his timer went off after the first assignment (he reads each book 10-15 minutes a day), he came to me and said “My St. Thomas book is getting really good. I don’t want to stop reading. I wish I could have more time.” I thought for a minute and wondered, “Well, why not? Yes, he does have more work to do, but he’s really engaged…..what to do?” The teacher in me has two voices: the one who feels like I have a Big Brother Principal-Administrator constantly looking over my shoulder was running through the list and thinking how behind we’d be if I gave him more time; the other was thrilled that he had found such “friends” in his books and wanted nothing other to encourage that interest and give him the time he was asking for.

I gave him the time……

By the time we dropped off my project and came home for lunch, he was more than half-way through the novel he had started for his literature reading and was sharing plot points and character descriptions excitedly with me while we drove in the car. I told him he could have a “reading day” if he finished his spelling, grammar, and piano after lunch. I was prepared to let the rest of his “core subjects” go for the day if he would be reading.

So was the day a total loss? Viewed through the eyes of the current assessment-driven education culture, my son didn’t “produce” a single thing today, didn’t offer up a quantitative test score that could be used to measure him against other kids in the district or the state, didn’t write anything that could be used to assess his understanding of any given time period in history or any particular character in said period. And as a teacher, I well know those things are important — but there is a time and a place for them, and today was neither the time nor the place for that kind of work.

Today while reading my son learned: what it means to be a virtuous man who stands up for what he believes in, even when someone in power tries to make him do otherwise; the importance of faith and family in one’s life; what it means to listen carefully in order to discern God’s will for each person; and what it costs to stand up for what you believe in. In addition, he learned a lot about pre-Reformation England, Parliament, and King Henry VIII — all this from reading a historical novel about St. Thomas More. Today while reading, my son also learned: about the behaviors and traits of various types of owls; that sometimes even the closest members of one’s own family don’t tell the truth; that sometimes one has to leave everything one knows and loves to find out that truth; that history can be “changed” when facts are misrepresented or are missing entirely and that these errors have an impact on succeeding generations; that each individual is given a gift and something that makes them uniquely themselves and that they have a choice not only as to how to use that gift but whether to use it at all — all this from reading book 7 in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series.  Today while reading my son also learned new vocabulary, the importance of character, pacing and organization within a story, and how to devote sustained, concentrated attention to the task at hand. He challenged his memory and practiced storytelling, paraphrasing, and inference by narrating back to me the events of the books he was reading (an often better tool for assessment than the standard uninspired book report kids are required to churn out). And let’s not forget the connections he has made between both of these books and the medieval period in British history that we are studying — because of events in the St. Thomas book the occur between the king and Parliament, he better understands the way early England was governed; and because of the way the owl communities are formed in Ga’Hoole, he has a better understanding of the early craftsmen’s guilds in Europe. Not bad for a day that didn’t include the regular school “formula.”

In these fast-paced, technologically frenzied days, there is something to be said for “learning” how to slow down, pay attention, and get lost in whatever book you happen to love at the moment.