Maybe I can take this evening to fulfill another promise -- this one I made to Beth over at Beautiful Day -- and say a bit about what I learned at the homeschooling conference this year.
This year I was blown away by the classical education speakers at the Southeast Homeschooling Conference -- namely, Andrew Kern, Christopher Perrin, and Andrew Pudewa. It's not that WHAT they said was so new... instead, I think I was prepped to hear it this year.
I could go on for days talking about the talks that I heard... and trust me, those who know me IRL have heard me prattle on and on!... but to whittle it down:
We are here to know, love, and serve our God.
Part of that knowing comes from focusing on what is good, true, noble, and beautiful.
It is in studying and contemplating great literature... great works of art... masterpieces of music... etc. that we come to know a bit more about the majestic God who created all things.
It's a bit like CS Lewis and his moments of "joy" that he tries to describe -- those wistful happy/sad moments where we are reminded of something we've never seen before... where we raise our eyes to Heaven and ask, "What, Lord? What is it about this moment that is pointing me to You?"
In the same way, all that is good, true, noble, and beautiful points us to Him. We like a story, for example, because it has something in it that reminds us of Him... or points us in His direction... or awakens an awareness of our need for Him.
Blessed Pope John Paul II said something that has haunted me ever since I first read it:
It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness.
When we find something that truly speaks to us, it's a signpost leading straight to Jesus.
THEREFORE, since we are here to KNOW Him... and since part of that knowing comes in focusing on what is good... it's almost like a heavenly mandate to devote some time to good reading, listening to good music, going to a museum and losing yourself in the art around you, etc.
Spending time with the classics... with beauty.. is NOT a frivolous exercise in the eyes of God.
Furthermore, it is in learning the various subjects that we also learn more of God. There are certain truths about God that can only be known mathematically... and by jumping into math and reveling in the beauty and joy of it, we can once again come face to face with something about the Lord.
Some things about God can only be known through art... poetry... music... science... nature studies... and the list goes on and on. He reveals Himself over and over through countless creative ways, and part of our task here is to seek Him out, daily, in what I can only compare to a cosmic version of "Where's Waldo?"
My younger kids and I got a brief glimpse of this when we were weeding the garden on one of the few sunny days we've had over the past several weeks. It was completely overrun, and we had a fairly decent-sized task ahead of us. As my kids started, they kept asking, "Is this a weed? Is this a weed, Mommy?" I stopped what I was doing and said, "You know, guys, we really don't need to identify every weed in this garden. What we really need to do is identify the PLANTS in the garden, and then pull out everything else."
Similarly, my job is to surround myself (and family) with what is good, true, noble, and beautiful, so that when we run across something that ISN'T, we'll know it right away. I don't have to identify all that is evil and ugly in this world... that will be fairly evident once I've made it a habit to stay close to all that is beautiful.
Look at that! Two days in a row! I'm on a roll.....