Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wind and Fire and Discernment

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Thomas Aquinas College

Since I am in planning mode this summer, and have been writing a lot of planning posts anyway, I thought I might use my planning checklist as a sort of spine for my blogging on this topic.

The checklist I use for preparation:

Checklist:  Preparation for the School Year (docx)
Checklist:  Preparation for the School Year (PDF) 

There are 35 items on there.   I doubt if I'll get through them all, but I thought if I posted on the ones I actually do this year, then I will have a basic outline there and a reality check.   So here goes: 

The first item on the list:

Think and brainstorm!  Pray for discernment!

That is actually three BIG items all condensed into one.

I will take the praying part first.  I usually start during Lent praying and thinking about our homeschool.  The old school year is drawing to a close;  I'm in the mood to think about renewing and bracing myself for next year.

This year, Lent was about spending time with my Mom in her last days, and later, going through her house, giving things away to people and agencies that could use them, and executing her will and directives.  Truly, I couldn't have asked for more blessings during Lent.    Though it was hard, I feel WAY more comfort and assurance that God has not given up on me, bad as I am.

 I can't express how much rather I would go through pain with the assurance that He is holding my hand, than comfort without Him.  This is not at all saintly of me, but purely a matter of pain vs pleasure.  Convenience without Him is hellish, while suffering with Him is like a treasure.  Yet I always seek out convenience and comfort by preference... go figure.

That is off the subject...  so it wasn't until Easter came that I start the praying and discerning about the next school year.     While I have regular cycles of unschooling in my homeschool, I seem to  find unschooling very draining.     I choose it some years because after praying and discerning, I feel like our homeschool requires it.  But it's like camping, or choosing radical poverty, to me -- very uncomfortable and counter-intuitive.  I always come way up against my own limitations.

Last year I unschooled, and it was what the year needed.   This year, after starting the praying and discerning, I felt like next year should be about literature-based homeschooling and working on some of my Charlotte Mason/classical homeschooling skills.

Kieron has only two years left in the homeschool.  I want to make the most of the brief time left with him.

He has been very valuable in our homeschool as a role model for the younger children.   He is very steady, sensible and sociable to them.  Whatever type of homeschooling we do, I don't want it to end up with him sitting in a room away from them studying all day.

So that is why I am looking at as many multi-level and integrated resources as possible, so we can do as much as possible in common, even though there is a lot of disparity in age.

Looking at what I've written, I can see where thinking, brainstorming and praying all overlap, at least in my mind!

I just wanted to add that this year,  I have particularly found the 10 days between the Ascension and Pentecost to be a time to beg the Holy Ghost to aid me and my family in a big way.  With grown children transitioning out of the house, husband's work transitioning, and my own change from younger middle age to mid-century age, there is so much potential for instability and confusion, especially, I must say, with the way technology is exploding (and my family's home business is intrinsically connected with technology so it is affected by that too) .  With both my parents now gone, I feel somewhat bereft and ungrounded from my own history just at the time when legacy and grounding is becoming more important to me.

This year I realized that when you are turning 50, it is not likely that you are going to be able to change your character or habits very drastically on your own steam.    Young people are malleable and plastic in a way older people are not.   Yet, I know plenty of people who made drastic character and habit changes after the mid-century mark.   So it's by no means hopeless.   Change comes in a different way, but it can definitely come.

Yet that makes me realize how much I need the Holy Spirit.

 I don't want to alter myself. like redecorating my kitchen; I want Him to replace me, in a way.

 I don't want to be one of those late middle-aged people who hook on to some health or lifestyle trend and become like fossils enmired in a certain geological strata.  I want to become more and more part of that Beauty of Ancient Days yet Ever-New.

 I keep reading about how the Son does the Will of the Father and the Holy Ghost does what He is sent for, and how we are invited to be linked to that tremendous dynamic, and how I am so trivial I often don't even feel how immense a privilege that is.

And as I get older, I'm more and more scared of descending into triviality or stratification (as so many do, and what accounts for the grace and dignity that is proper to old age but only manifests in some of the elderly is usually God's grace embodied in their lives).  So honestly, I really really need the Holy Spirit, and I am very glad when I see signs that He has not yet quite given up on me, even if the signs are painful sometimes. 

This seems to be getting way away from homeschooling plans, but not really.  Homeschooling has always seemed to me like a road to sanctification, not that homeschooling always sanctifies or that it is the only way to sanctification, not at all;  but that if it is NOT a road to sanctification, it is nothing -- just more worldliness.

Knowing that homeschooling is a means to sanctification is seriously the only thing that keeps me going now that I can't really count on youthful optimism and energy, and I don't have a high opinion of my acquired wisdom or experience.

So that leads me to think that I really, REALLY need those gifts of the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in the novena.  In fact, the world could use way more of those so I am praying that He showers the gifts on the Church and that we all are infused by them.  Where I don't have much natural optimism, energy or confidence of my own, I do feel justified in having unlimited optimism and confidence in Him, especially when reflecting on those miraculous events of Pentecost that we celebrate this coming Sunday

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

What a long post, and I didn't even get all the way through the praying part of it!   But maybe that is all right, since that is the One Needful Thing.

Picture from Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters 

More later!  Chari is working a lot these next couple of weeks so she can take a bit of time away from work when some of the Ryans visit some of the Bryans in mid-June!  So please pray that her homeschooling, and all of yours, is visited by the fire and wind and gifts of the Holy Spirit! 




  1. Loving these posts, you have me thinking and just to let you know how much I appreciate your blog, I've awarded you the Versatile Award:)

  2. I enjoyed your thoughts Willa. I am 52 and find I simply don't have the energy I used to rely on. And I never was high energy to begin with. One thing I'm trying to focus on is a better diet but this is very hard, I find because. . . . .it takes a lot of mental and physical energy! Vicious circle there! I find unschooling harder the older I get and the emptier the house gets. There just isn't that swirl of energy to rely on that is present you have the bustle of a lot of young kids. We are all much too inclined to go off in our own corners and entertain ourselves and we are too reluctant to stretch. Ach! I"m feeling a little gloomy today and I think it is showing!

    1. I share many of the challenges you mention, Faith. I feel somewhat like I've dug into a hole, so I decided that prayer was the best way to go since I'm not able to count on my own resources.

  3. Lovely post. I'm enjoying following your planning so much as I get started with my own attempts to organize (printing out preparation checklist as I type.) I have as my goal this year to keep the wonder in learning and avoid burn-out for all of us.

    1. Thank you, Andrea, my goals for this year are similar. I remember when I used to think that veteran homeschool moms must have it all down. Now I realize that perseverance doesn't really acquire its own momentum; that perseverance or staying the course is just getting back up again and again and again. That sounds depressing -- maybe it's a matter of having recourse to grace again and again and again, which sounds much more pleasant, like getting lots of dessert rather than choking down foul medicine.

      Thankfully the Church keeps reminding me of the same thing with the sacrament of penance, and the liturgical seasons of the year.

  4. Willa, as I get more and more firmly entrenched in mid-life, I'm so grateful to read reminders like this. It reminds me of how I want to continue on.


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