I believe that Jesus is still teaching and revealing Himself to his disciples—you and me—through parables. There are parables happening in each of our lives and all around us each and everyday, but we often fail to recognize them. As a matter of fact, I nearly missed one yesterday as I was cleaning our classrooms. I was so focused on scrubbing base boards and washing windows until they were streak free that I missed a beautiful illustration of the Gospel. Blessedly, Pat Terry, my cleaning companion, was more alert and aware of the Holy Spirit's voice in our work.
Our little school building at 10 S. Dukes Street was left abandoned and forlorn about five years ago. Over time the paint began to chip, cobwebs formed in the corners, the windows became encrusted with dirt and grime, and flies and spiders lived full lives and then died on the window sills. But, the first day we looked at the property, we fell in love. We knew we could make our home here. We knew that we could repaint, knock down cobwebs, and clean windows. We saw a beautiful potential in the place. So, now, we are on our hands and knees scrubbing base boards, getting dust in our hair and eyes, and sweating through our clothes. Our vision of beauty is becoming reality! We have an old building that is being made new!
Pat brought to my attention that our journey and relationship with the property is so very much like Jesus' relationship with us. Jesus also promises to make us new, if we will accept His free and unearned gift. He looks around at our chipping paint, the cobwebs in our hearts and the dirt and grime that that forms over our eyes, and makes us blind to the Light. He looks around and He falls in love with us! He thinks, "I could make my home here." All the work to make us new was done on the cross long ago, but today—everyday—Jesus is sweeping out the cobs webs, scrubbing those dark corners, and making our eyes to see His glory. And in the end, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
I am not one of those people who love cleaning, but now, each moment that I spend on my hands and knees scrubbing those floors will be an act of worship. It will be a reminder of the good work that Jesus is doing in me and through Harvest Community School. Thank you Jesus for making old things new and speaking your Truth into this world. Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
With Love and Thanksgiving,
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
And uphold me with thy free spirit.
The three of us (Shea, Angie, and Tammy) are thrilled about the turn-out of our ice cream social. We met with some wonderful families who are planning to enroll their children at Harvest. One might have to wait five years until her little man grows a bit. We gave away all five copies of For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay to thank them for coming.
We were excited to learn that they are committed to being a vital part of our community and are quite willing to help us do the hard work in the next five weeks to make the school a reality. They asked a lot of really great questions, which we will answer here and add to the website!
We will close with a hymn we will sing with our students starting in August. It is quickly becoming an anthem for Harvest Community School--"Great Is Thy Faithfulness".
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided--
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Nature walks awakens wonder and curiosity.
People are surprised when we tell them that we walk the same trail every week. "Doesn't it get boring?"
Every time we walk the trail we see something new. Something awakens our senses to wonder and prompts questions. We pull out our cameras and take pictures to post at citizen science websites. We pick up things to study and share with the others. We draw things in our nature notebooks and try to identify things that are new to us the following week. We grow curious.
Nature study lengthens the attention span.
I see the difference between children practiced in the art of nature study and beginners. Those new to walks blast through the trail. The goal is the end, not the journey. Experienced walkers find things to share with others. Today, the boys found a patent-leather beetle. One held it still for another to take a picture. Then he stroked the insect, and we all stood quietly to hear it chirp. We build attention through nature study.
It teaches us to educate ourselves.
Nature study relieves teachers of the burden of making children learn. They cannot help themselves once wonder, curiosity, and attention catch fire. They eagerly find out things for themselves. We stand aside and watch them discover amazing things on their own.
We have gotten to the point of recognizing banana spiders and orchard orbweavers (which we called "neon spiders" until we clinched the classification). Today, a boy who just turned six years old this month spotted this rather small spider above our heads, glowing in the sunlight. A new friend to name!
Nature study builds relationships.
We have walked the trail for nearly a year. Our weekly jaunts have created landmarks. The mosquito gantlet. The log where the ginormous frog sat. The railing where caterpillars and spiders hang out. The best trunks for climbing. The castles surrounded by moats. The tree that the snake climbed. Millipede alley and the frog pond. The tree that foamed.
When we have new people join us, we love sharing our finds. Here the boys are looking at God's styrofoam (the part of a water hyacinth that makes it buoyant). We build relationships with things on the trail as well as with one another.
Sometimes, we get wet and dirty!
We have walked under all weather conditions, except snow! On the coldest day, we walked (albeit rather quickly). On the wettest day (when the fringes of Tropical Storm Andrea passed through), we walked. Only vacations and illness have prevented us from walking.
When the sky isn't getting us wet, we get wet intentionally. Here our intrepid explorer waded out into the pond to pluck a water hyacinth for us. The pattern of colors on the lavender petals reminded him of a peacock feather.
Nature study brings joy.
Sometimes we cannot help but shout for joy when we do something new. This boy caught three baby frogs and exclaimed to his mother, "Look! I found three frogs!" And we all crowded around to look and take pictures.
On this one walk, we came across a new butterfly and a new spider and wondered why the swamp looks unusually bubbly and oily today.
No. Walking the same trail every week never gets boring.
A community called to offer another way to learn for students in Clarendon County