Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How life has changed.

10 years ago (or even 5), I read a lot of philosophy. On cleaning day, my coffee table looked like this.

Now at the end of the day, it looks like this.
And I'm singin' my "Boo-yeah, Momma!" song! (Don't you have one, too?)

I can recite Go, Dog, Go without actually reading the words in front of me because at the same time I'm answering the question, 'Mommy, do you think Mother Teresa had any sadness?' while cleaning dog poop off of Teva sandals. And I also can find a tiny Lego block dropped in the bushes behind the house. During allergy season.

In other words, life is less studious but more philosophical.

Boo. Yeah.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine, Father and Doctor

“Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.” ~St. Augustine

Image source.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cash does nails.

Many thanks to Jennifer of Conversion Diary for her beautiful commentary on this Johnny Cash cover of the Nine-Inch Nails' "Hurt." Jennifer is truly a Philosopher Mom par excellence! It truly makes us more human, and I can't wait to thank Johnny personally someday... when all the empires of dirt are washed away.

The political season always recalls me to poems like The Destruction of Sennacherib and Shelley's brilliant Ozymandias. The feeling of great nations is a dramatic lesson for understanding the ultimate transience of all human empires.

But a song like this -- a much smaller, but more fundamental scale than Shelley or Keats -- is somehow more proportional to our human minds. It's hard to grasp the part I play on the scale of Egypt, Persia, Rome, or Great Britain. But I sure know exactly where my own little "empire of dirt" lies. Nations fall because they are dust--and so do we.

A human scale. A human story. A human song.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Where you been, yo?

The dog days of August, and the Philosopher Mom is limping back into the blogosphere. A little more worn, a little more weary, but oh! so happy, too.

The Big Project brewing has come to fruition.

Opening day for Regina Caeli Academy, Connecticut, is Monday, August 13!

The demands this new part of our vocation has made have been so heavy--and one of the hardest sacrifices has been the loss of writing. "This, too, Lord?"

It has not been nearly as hard as the hours away from the children (I have a newfound respect for mothers who must work full-time). Those hours apart from them and from Todd have reinforced our commitment to homeschooling and being a one-career family. You simply cannot replace quantities of lost time with intensive "quality time." We have tried. It is true.

But... from now on, I get to bring the Philosophical Progeny to the academy. They came today to help clean and sort (the 2-year-old helped to dirty and destroy). It was wonderful to work alongside them, to see their excitement at "our new school," and to hear them say, "This is wonderful!" It is. And it can only be a gift and signal of the Father's love.

Below are the opening remarks I jotted down for yesterday's parent orientation. I was so flustered I couldn't bear the thought of having no printed words to go by! Perhaps someday I'll wing it. But, so you might rejoice in our gift, read on. And then... pray for us!

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

'O My God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage, and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me. And I shall meet with peace.'


That prayer is from the diaries of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), whose feast we celebrate in the Roman Rite today. How beautiful that we gather together for the first time as a community on the feast of this beautiful convert, brilliant scholar, devoted teacher, who ultimately gave her life not only for the Catholic Faith but also for her Jewish people.

“It is good, Lord, that we are here.”

These words kept coming to me as we prepared to begin this new adventure in CT. “It is good, Lord, that we are here.”

I want first of all to acknowledge every parent and student gathered here in this room: You are pioneers. When you describe Regina Caeli Academy to your family and friends, they probably say, “Oh… kind of like a co-op?” or “Oh, so you’re a Catholic school” or, the worst, “Oh, so why did you decide to stop homeschooling?”

No, we are neither a school nor a co-op nor are we giving up the most precious gift, time together in the home.

We are parents who have taken full responsibility as the primary educators of our children. Most of us here have—perhaps for years, perhaps on and off—“gone it alone” or largely alone in the home.

And now, simply, we are no longer alone.  We are here together, committed to support one another in our vocation and to support our children as they discern their own vocations.

You have come here—many of you at great personal cost—for your family, your marriage, your children.  You have come here for a rigorous, classical education and the discussion-based courses. You have come here first and foremost for a community faithful in everything to the teachings of Christ and His Catholic Church. Your children will form friendships with their peers and with adults who are fully committed to the life of holiness, prayer, and study. They will work hard both here and in the home. They will play with greater freedom during those awesome vacations we have scheduled!

This is a great gift. “It is good, Lord, that we are here.”

But you will also be yourselves a gift to the other families. You have also come to give of yourselves in a new way. You, as spouses and mothers and fathers and students, each have some irreplaceable gift to give. No one here is dispensable or “just another body” or another tuition check (heaven forbid).

Your family’s presence here today makes this entire community possible. It is good that you are here.

We are a new campus with an unknown path before us. We have all received piles and piles of information, some of it confusing. You have all persevered, and now we get to see the piles sort themselves out, the pieces fall into place. You will see mistakes—including many of mine—but you will also see purpose, meaning, and ultimately the rewards.

I was often reminded this summer of the Psalm 126:

They go out, they go out full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing,
They come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their harvest.”

The harvest will be great. If you have asked God, our Father, for a fruitful year, a year of growth in holiness, love, and knowledge for your children, He will give it to them and he will give it to you.

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your gift of self. Thank you for your patience with and forgiveness of me and all our leaders.

In the mercy of God, let us begin!