Reflections on the various dimensions of feminine vocation from liturgical homemaking and child rearing to education and the spiritual life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ancient History Homeschool Studies

For our homeschool studies this year, we've added ancient history to our first-grade core curriculum. We're supplementing Story of the World, Vol. 1 with art projects and lots–and I do mean lots–of library books.

For the art projects, we are using Artistic Pursuits, Book 1, one of Cathy Duffy's top 101 picks. For now, we're skipping the first two parts of the book and are concentrating on the chronological ancient art projects in the back of the book. So far we've done "cave paintings," made pottery, and drawn pyramid-style murals. Thursday art days have become a favorite in our house.

In no particular order, I'll share with you some of our library book finds. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many feet high my stacks of library books measure, but there is no way I can catalog them all for you–at least not in one post. And you wouldn't want me to. So here are few for starters.

The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs is a beautifully illustrated tale retold from an ancient papyrus scroll believed to date to the nineteenth century B.C. I love that it is an authentic Egyptian story and not historical fiction. There's a place for both but the authentic literature is harder to come by for early ancient history, especially when considering what's appropriate for the younger student. Plus, there are actual hieroglyphic phrases in the illustrations of the book, complete with word-for-word pronunciation and translation!

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs is a wonderful picture book biography of Jean-Fran├žois Champollion. It is well-written and nicely illustrated with lots of interesting information tucked in.

Adventures in Ancient Egypt, a time travel book written and illustrated in comic-book style, was fun for me to read, but I think I'll save reading it to Katherine until we cycle through again. It's appropriately designated for ages eight through twelve.
A City Through Time and A Street Through Time are both excellent pictorial overviews of the history of civilization from nomads through modern times. The detailed illustrations make these over-sized books lots of fun.

I think that's enough for now. Good night!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rest: The Opposite of Acedia

In reading Kathleen Norris's book, Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life, I was cheered to come across the following passage on the nature of unceasing prayer:
We might well ask if these crazy monks don't have it coming: if your goal is to "pray without ceasing," aren't you asking for trouble? Is this a reasonable goal, or even a good one? Henri Nouwen tells us that "the literal translation of the words 'pray always' is 'come to rest.' The Greek word for rest," he adds, "is 'hesychia,' and 'hesychasm' is a term which refers to the spirituality of the desert." The "rest" that the monk is seeking is not an easy one, and as Nouwen writes, it "has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle."Acedia is the monk's temptation because, in a demanding life of prayer, it offers the ease of indifference. Yet I have come to believe that acedia can strike anyone whose work requires self-motivation and solitude, anyone who remains married 'for better for worse," anyone who is determined to stay true to a commitment that is sorely tested in everyday life. (p. 6)
Acedia definitely strikes me, and, for some reason, knowing that the cure is rest in God is so very comforting and encouraging. To pray always is to enter the height of creation, the Sabbath of worship and rest. It is to remember our freedom from bondage of every kind through our Savior. It is to enter into the re-creation, the Eighth Day of the resurrection. It is to be always present in the Kingdom of Heaven, hidden with Christ in God. By God's grace, may it always be the cry of my soul to be there in that hidden place.