Sunday, June 29, 2008

Morning has broken...

I spent the past week in and around Fredericksburg, Texas at Summer Institute. It is a training program for all Ambleside School teachers. They were long, arduous days filled with taking in information, assimilating it, discussing it. At the end of each session throughout the day, we tried to respond to the material in meaningful ways.

The purpose behind the special teacher training is to help us understand the philosophy behind the Ambleside Schools. There is a strong emphasis on being in relationship with God, His creation, our students, and the text we are using. I had a good mental understanding, but it hadn't penetrated to my heart completely by the end of the week. Until yesterday.

Yesterday morning I woke up early-ish and sat out on the porch of the guesthouse (out on a ranch in the Hill Country) where I stayed at night. I was savoring my first cup of coffee as the sun peered over the horizon. The birds were waking up by ones and twos. The whip-poor-will was recommending castigating poor Will; a cardinal (or a mockingbird) poured out his heart's delight; and some other unseen choristers shared happy chirpings and obbligato descants. There was a trumpet flower vine wrapped around one of the porch columns with a seedpod on it. As the sun kissed the orange flowers, they lit up as if from within. I walked over to examine it closely. There were apparently stationary ants randomly scattered across seedpod and flowers. Suddenly, as if by command, they all moved. I watched this synchronized group ballet several times. Then I sat back down, and continued watching from a distance. An unexpected movement in the tree near the porch caught my eye. As I focused on the movement, I saw it was a wee hummer, who was also deriving nourishment from the trumpet vine flowers. Soon, a second hummer joined the first one. After a few minutes, the two hummers were playing a kind of “tag” chasing each other around the tree branches. Then, a third hummer joined the first two in their diversion.

I was stunned by the beauty of the morning that God had awakened me to see. I realized that these creatures were all in relationship with their Creator, and to varying degrees with one another. Then, it struck me: in waking me early, and suggesting to me that I sit out of doors with my coffee, my Abba taught my heart what I still needed to understand about what it means to live relationally.

How heartrendingly exquisite, even in its brokenness, is the world that God created!



living stones said...

Susan, thank you for this beautiful reflection. It is lovely and meaningful. It encourages and strengthens me in slowing down, being present and aware--and grateful. Rich blessings on you in living this way and sharing it with your students at Ambleside--

living stones said...

Susan, beautifully written. I think "relational living" is one of the big things God is doing now. Knowledge really is a relationship. You don't master a subject or a concept, instead you have a relationship with texts, with authors, and with other people interested in the subject or concept. Have you read _To Know as We Are Know: Education as a Spiritual Journey_ by Parker Palmer? That book is very relevant to what you are talking about in this post and to what we are doing as a community. "Relational living" is largely the point of our community. Thanks for relating. --Paul

Susan Price said...

I haven't read that book, Paul, but it's going on my list! Thanks for telling me about it.

Mark Wills said...

Susan - a beautiful reflection. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Paul - thank you for the response you gave to Susan's post. I like the observation that knowledge is akin to relationship.

Sarah said...

That is a beautiful post, Mom--I loved reading it and hearing about it in different contexts. I loved that your trip that initially was not desirable became such a gift.

I have read Palmer's book on education, and it beautifully relates how knowledge cannot be outside of relationship. I think this is the key to what is so broken about the public school system right now. Students are not entering into relationship with their subjects, with their teachers, and with themselves--instead, the center of the classroom has become "The Test," and how can you be in relationship with something so contrived?

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