Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday in the Evening

Charlotte Mason said that, "Education is a science of relationships."
What that means practically is that we, or our children, have not to know of things, but to KNOW them intimately - to have lasting relationships with ideas, places and people. To develop friendships with good books, with how paint color spreads on wet paper, with pond shallows and stream beds, with the way birds stand sentinel and the greens of the trees deepen as the sun goes down, the way the whipporwill sings right at the very moment dusk falls.
These relationships can't be built within the four walls of a classroom or from reading dry facts from textbooks. They can't even be taught. They need to be discovered and then left with quiet hours for a close relationship to develop.
That is what Hemphill House is about.
And it's not just the children. As I personally have gone through many life changes, I am awakening to the awareness that the whole world outside me is pulsating with relationships waiting to be consummated...driving the parkway at night with the windows down is my new friend, the French Broad River rolling beside me in the dark. The way the grass clumps in the pond convulse when the otter is eating a fish hidden in their stalks, the pile of bones I may or may not find later and the paths he leaves in the weedy green rushes going about his business. The slow tubular bodies of the bottom feeders sunning in the shallows, their black tails flicking them back into the dense overgrowth. Bright faces of children climbing trees, (and, truthfully, the log walls),(and anything else sturdy enough to support size 2 feet), hand-made drawings and boisterous voices. The invitation to discover alongside the children, sewing wonder back onto the worn thin parts of my soul. Stalking the present, tracing it's edges, like Emily Dickinson observing, "My business is circumference."
My kitchen utensils, (donated to the school's kitchen), are now strewn about the garden, muddy, and a row of exquisitely decorated mudpies line the walkway to the door.
The children have discovered an island where buttercups grow on the other side of the hidden stream and intimately know the patches where the forget-me-nots and wild strawberries thrive en masse.
There were lots of good people here for dinner tonight, children in bathing suits running up and down the hill, in and out of the water, food passed around, thoughts shared and built on, puppies coddled and put to bed, and friendships strengthened.
That is Hemphill House.
A science, a network, of relationships. And the invitation is open.

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