Up, Up, and Away! 1,500 books prepare to travel to Anglican Seminaries in Africa

The Wonderland BookSavers are continuing with their mission to spread the joy of reading through the distribution of used texts to new readers.  In this capacity, we were called upon to find a home for approximately 1,500 books from the personal library of the (deceased) prominent Episcopal minister, Rev. H. Boone Porter.

Porter basementWe began our project in the catacomb-like basement of the parish rectory.  With flashlights and extension cords for our computers, we created an initial bibliography of the books we discovered.

Porter Sept

Porter Greek Porter Hebrew

Each box was like a surprise Christmas gift.  We discovered Bibles from the 1800’s, ancient prayer books in miniature (designed for portability) and texts in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Porter St.Paul'sAfter our initial assessment of the books we began looking for a recipient.  After much research we contacted the Theological Book Network in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We were thrilled to finally locate an organization that could organize and distribute our large volume of theological texts.

The following is a letter the Theological Book Network received from South Sudan from a previous (not ours) book donation.  We are so grateful that the human spirit will continue to rise even after decades of desperation.

RECONCILE-Peace-InstituteThe RECONCILE Peace Institute is so thankful for your (Theological Book Network) partnership!

Your affirming e-mails, phone conversations, and library resources are an absolute blessing! The Theological Book Network’s generous commitment to provide 1,500 books will help improve the vital ministries of trauma recovery and conflict transformation which we offer in South Sudan. Thank you. Without question, life in a nation scarred by decades of
civil war, lack of development, extensive trauma, and profound community wounds is quite difficult, but the Lord has called our organization to this service. God is using people of faith from around the globe and in the Church in South Sudan to accompany the world’s newest nation in her journey towards hope, healing and reconciliation. Thank you for
investing your resoures into God’s vision for South Sudan.

As I write this letter, the South Sudanese pastors, teachers, bishops, NGO peace workers, and community leaders pictured above are traveling into places of unrest and conflict to make a difference. They all studied and trained at the RECONCILE Peace Institute. Your partnership reminds them, Christians of all nations support their efforts to rebuild their
communities. Thank you. I am sincerely honored to call you partners and friends.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Shelvis Smith-Mather, M.Div., Th.M
Principal of the RECONCILE Peace Institute
RECONCILE International (Yei, South Sudan)

Theological Network builds “libraries” from donated books and ships them around the world.  Rev. Bonne Porter’s books will be traveling to Anglican Seminaries throughout Africa.

This is particularly appropriate as Rev. Boone Porter is best know for his efforts to find common ground in the various denominations representing the Christian faith.  His scholarly work led him to rewrite the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

As noted in the New York Times on July 1, 1999:

“The vision of Reverend Dr. Cannon H. Boone Porter’s 44 years of ordained ministry aimed to revitalize the Episcopalian Church through education, liturgical reform and inclusion of its marginalized members.  His work of raising up new membership, enriching Christian worship and creating a central place for women, Afro-and Native Americans and rural communities in the Church was often opposed but succeeded in redefining the Episcopal Church’s relationships within itself and with the world.”

Porter taping boxesWe found that Boone’s personal library contains approximately 1,500 Christian texts, ranging from prayer books, books on Christian doctrine, books on the importance of architecture and discussions of faith-based questions such as personal responsibility and the ethics and ethos of free will.

Porter pen and inkAs we handle these books we imagine the human beings who have come before us, hundreds of years of readers who have gained insight and inspiration from these very same pages.

“If God’s love is for anybody anywhere, it’s for everybody everywhere.” — Edward Lawlor, Nazarene General Superintendent

Porter lifting boxes

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is connecting our lives with the lives of others, in a meaningful, tangible manner.

Destination Imagination State Champions!

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Last saturday, two teams competed in the Destination Imagination state competition.  In case you haven’t read my previous posts on the subject, Destination Imagination is an international problem-solving and teamwork competition.  Each year, thousands of teams (composed of seven members) can choose to solve one of six annual “challenges,” each one focusing on a different skill set: technical engineering, science, fine arts,  improvisation, structural engineering, or community service.  The teams work together to adress certain requirements and present their solutions in the form of eight-minute skits.  They cannot have adult help developing ideas, writing scripts, or creating props.  At a regional, state, or global tournament, teams present their skits (which count for 75% of their final score) and also compete in “Instant Challenges” which test their ability to think on their feet by requiring the completion of unexpected timed tasks (such as building a tower or writing a quick performance).  Instant Challenges make up the remaining 25% of their score.

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Wonderland Booksavers, about to compete in Instant Challenge

Our middle school level team, the Wonderland Booksavers, chose to complete in the community service-based challenge: “Project Outreach: Real to Reel.”  For this challenge, they had to work together to adress a community need.  They also had to create a short documentary film about their project.

In their performance, they were required to showcase their film, review their project, and participate in a simulated press conference, where they answered questions about the experience.  The team, which sprung out of an informal book club, chose to donate used books to those in need.  They donated over 5000 books to places within the US (such as Bridgeport, Connecticut and Appalachia) and to places across the globe (including Haiti and South Africa.)  They also donated teddy bears and new books to survivors of the Newtown shooting.

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The team packs books to be donated

The team won first place in their challenge and age level.

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Team I.C.E. in the launch area, prepared to set up their props.

Our high school-level team, Team I.C.E. (Imagine. Create. Empower.), competed in the science-based challenge, “Wind Visible.”  They were required to research wind energy, and incorporate this knowledge into a skit about an invisible visitor, who, like the wind, cannot be seen but sets something in motion.  They had to create kinetic art powered by the wind and designate two additional items that they did especially well on  (“Team Choice Elements”) for score.

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Team I.C.E. during their performance

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The team’s skit was about the inhabitants of a coral reef (two jellyfish, a sea serpent, a mermaid, and a school of fish) who, with the help of the Great Wind Spirit, build a wind-powered lighthouse to ensure that sailors will no longer crash into the surrounding coastline.  They are motivated by their invisible visitor, the ghost of a sailor who drowned there.  The team worked especially hard to build creative props and costumes, including a haunted shipwreck, an ocean backdrop and coral reef, jellyfish made from umbrellas, and a mermaid tail covered in scales that were really foil cupcake liners and gold and silver candy wrappers.

Both teams qualified to compete in the Global Finals, held every year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  Over 1200 teams, who qualified at state, province, or national finals, are expected to participate in this week-long celebration of creativity this year.  The Wonderland Booksavers and Team I.C.E. are very excited to be a part of the event.  Meanwhile, they’ll continue to meet to practice Instant Challenges, repair props, tweak their performance, and rehearse.

Brown Bag Surprise: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Have you ever started something that brings you to such a different place at the end that you can almost not remember the beginning?  Such was the case with our December Brown Bag Surprise.  It began on an innocent day in December, near the beginning of Advent.

Brown Bag nativityBounce’s Destination Imagination team is committed to Community Service.  This commitment has led them to view every opportunity in the light of service, asking, “How can we take this experience, gift, opportunity, and turn it into a gift for others?”

Upon finding an unused case of 9 dozen teddy bears, our church donated them to Bounce, saying,

“We know you will find something to do with these teddy bears.  All we ask is that when you do, write an essay for the newsletter and let us know how you used these bears.”

It was just three weeks before Christmas; visions of sugarplums still danced in our heads.

brown bag design 1brown bag design 2

Bounce decided to create teddy bear gift bags.

Bounce’s Destination Imagination team is also his Book Club, which is also the Wonderland BookSavers: Inspired by Literature team, a group which has, since September, donated 2,000 children’s books to multiple charities.  Their gifts are inspired by the literature they read.

brown bag poetry reading groupDecember is Homeschool Happymess Poetry Month.  Bounce and the Wonderland BookSavers were studying poetry.  They memorized the wonderful Lewis Carroll poem, Your Are Old Father William, from Alice-in-Wonderland.  They selected favorite poems and practiced their recitation skills, proclaiming their love of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration from the tops of ladders, the schoolroom reading loft, and the tops of bookcases.

Bounce chose his favorite:  The Bells by Edgar Allen Poe.  We had no idea how apt would be that choice.

Hear the sledges with the bells,

            Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

            In the icy air of night!

While the stars, that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

            With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

            Bells, bells, bells-

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

What would a gift bag be without a book of poetry?  Bounce found a wonderful, inexpensive, collection of poetry from Dover Thrift publishers.

Brown Bag poem book

We ordered 9 dozen books to go with the bears.

brown bag design 6And the Bears ‘n Books package was born.

brown bag design 3brown bag design 4brown bag design 5brown bag design 7Bounce knew that wrapped gifts were not allowed, and so he and his friends and siblings set about making the most elaborate brown bag designs they could imagine.

brown bag book boxes housebrown bag boxes in car Hear the mellow wedding bells,

            Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight!

From the molten golden notes,

And all in time,

What a liquid ditty floats

To the turtle-dove that listens while she gloats

            On the moon!

Oh, from out the sounding cells,

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

            How it swells!

            How it dwells

On the Future! How it tells

Of the rapture that impels

To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

            Bells, bells, bells-

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

After 10 days of hard work the bears were ready for Christmas delivery.  We drove them down to the police station where Christmas gifts where being donated for local children.

brown bag bounce wth policeHere the story took an unexpected turn.

Hear the loud alarm bells,

            Brazen bells!

What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

            Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation in a deaf and frantic fire,

            Leaping higher, higher, higher,

            With a desperate desire,

And a resolute endeavor

Now-now to sit or never,

By the side of the pale-faced moon,

Oh the bells, bells, bells!

What a tale their terror tells

            Of Despair!

While making these bear packages, a terrible tragedy occurred:  Newtown.  We were so stunned and saddened by this that for days our homeschool ceased activities and we simply prayed for the children and families of Newtown.  Like many in our community, our grief was too great to describe.

Now the police asked Bounce if he would be willing to donate his bear care packages to the children of Newtown.  They wanted to have gifts to give to the children when they returned to school.

brown bag bounce with state trooperAt 9:00 at night, when the town was quiet, except for a steady stream of mourners, Bounce was taken on a police escort tour of the many memorials of Newtown.

brown bag memorialbrown bag in our heartsbrown bag stay strongbrown bag picket fenceBounce left a Children’s Illustrated Bible at the picket fence, in hopes that prayers would bring some peace to this misery.

How they clang, and clash, and roar!

What a horror they outpour

On the bosom of the palpitating air!

Yet the ear it fully knows,

            By the twanging

            And the clanging,

How the danger ebbs and flows;

Yet the ear distinctly tells,

            In the jangling

            And the wrangling,

How the danger sinks and swells.

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells,

            Of the bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

            Bells, bells, bells-

In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

We know that it will be a long time before peace returns to the community of Newtown.  We respect their efforts to put forth a message of peace and love throughout this terrible ordeal.  As we travel on the highway we are most impressed by an enormous sign reading, “We Are Sandy Hook; We Choose Love.”

Hear the tolling of the bells.

            Iron bells!

What a world of solemn thought their melody compels!

            In the silence of the night

            How we shiver with affright,

At the melancholy menace of their tone!

For every sound that floats

From the rust within their throats

            Is a groan,

And the people-ah, the people,

They that dwell up in the steeple,

            All alone,

And who tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,

Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone-

They are neither man nor woman,

            They are Ghouls:

And their king it is who tolls;

And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

            Rolls,

A paen from the bells;

And his merry bosom swells

With the paen of the bells,

And he dances and he yells:

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells-

To the sobbing of the bells;

Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,

In a happy Runic-rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells,

To the bells, bells, bells:

To the tolling of the bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

            Bells, bells, bells-

To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

And so, yesterday, the police asked Bounce to donate his bears to a neighboring school in Newtown, one that has hosted many Newtown funerals, St. Rose of Lima.

Brown Bag school signThe Wonderland BookSavers were asked to speak at the school’s Friday Mass.

brown bag churchThey brought a message of love and solidarity, saying, “We want you to know that children all around the country are praying for you.”

They recited cheerful poems.  Bounce read a poem about a squirrel.

Whisky, frisky,

Hippity hop;

Up he goes

To the tree top!

Whirly, twirly

Round and round,

Down he scampers

To the ground.

 

Furly, curly,

What a tail!

Tall as a feather

Broad as a sail!

 

Where’s his supper?

In the shell,

Snappity, crackity,

Out it fell

 

The girls did a dual recitation of You Are Old Father William.

 

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said.

“And your hair has become very white; and yet you incessantly stand on your head.

Do you think at your age it is right?”

 

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son, “I feared it might injure the brain. 

But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,

Why I do it again, and again”

 

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,

And have grown most uncommonly fat;

Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door,

Pray, what is the reason for that?”

 

“In my youth,” said the man, as he shook his gray locks,

“I kept all my limbs very supple.

 By the use of this ointment,  One shilling the box.

 Allow me to sell you a couple.”

 

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak

For anything tougher than suet;

Yet you finished the goose with the bones and the beak-

Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

 

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,

And argued each case with my wife;

And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,

Has lasted the rest of my life.”

 

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose

That your eye was as steady as ever;

Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose-

What made you so awfully clever?”

 

“I have answered three questions and that is enough,”

Said his father, “Don’t give yourself airs!

Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?

Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!”

Brown Bag Old w:eel

St. Rose students thanked the Wonderland BookSavers with a standing ovation.

Wonderland BookSavers asked the St Rose children to join them in their quest to gather children’s books to donate to a library in Appalachia.  The St. Rose children were eager to help.  This week Wonderland BookSavers will bring boxes and posters for a book-drive to St. Rose, and a new collaboration will be born.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  John Donne

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is living our commitment to the global community.  Love thy neighbor as thy self.

Adventures in Bookland: Destination Imagination (again!)

Homeschool Happymess is counting down to Christmas and the vacation that surrounds this wonderful time of year.

WBS Truth and Bounce atlasWe are crazily trying to complete all our fall projects, blasting through those half-discarded spelling books, competing with one another,

“How many chapters have YOU completed in Wordly Wise?”

Our older students have final exams in Latin, Witty Wordsmith, Chemistry, Algebra, and History of Science, to name just a few.  They can be found up at all hours, musing over flashcards, strewn across couches, reciting archaic languages and studying arcane scientific facts.  They are dedicated.  They are restless.  They anticipate the conclusion and yet, 15 page term papers still loom in their immediate futures

Our younger students are delighting in the wreaths that are newly hung on all the doors and windows.  They eagerly search every magazine for clues as to what Santa may bring.  They are crafting and wrapping small games and puzzles for their favorite stuffed animals.  Adventure Bear will receive a lovely pot of marmalade, purloined from a breakfast buffet.  Gifts are wrapped and hidden.  Bounce has an elaborate pirate treasure map detailing all the locations.  I encounter these odd items as I search the back of cupboards and behind doors looking for missing Christmas china and wrapping paper.

WBS reading trainAnd throughout the mayhem emerges our newest project:  The Wonderland BookSavers:  Inspired by Literature

This year Bounce and his friends formed a new book club dedicated to reading and discussing   Classic Children’s Literature.  The book group members are young enthusiasts who are committed to making the world a better place.  Following their reading of Old Yeller, (previous post), the group read, and became entranced by, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

alice-in-wonderland white rabbitThey decided to name their Destination Imagination Project Outreach team after Alice in Wonderland and after great thought they have created the already amazing, Wonderland BookSavers.

WBS researchingTheir mission is to redistribute gently used children’s books to children, libraries and schools who have need of these books.

WBS donate 1WBS donate 2Thus far they have donated 685 books to a local charter school library.

WBS boxes and bookThey are currently preparing another 1,000 books to be sent to a community in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

Wonderland BookSavers has already had a strikingly positive influence on this initially simple homeschool book club.  The children are able to see the tremendous impact that literature can have upon the imagination and the spirit of the reader.  They understand that reading is a form of communication, both with the author and with other readers.  They value the time that they spend reading and discussing literature and thus they see the value that books have for all children and communities.

WBS Bounce with booksWonderland BookSavers are committed to enlarging the community of children that have access to books.  The children love handling all the “used” books.  They pore over the pictures, read aloud sections to one another, and generally have the opportunity to enjoy hundreds of books that they might otherwise never have seen.

Occasionally they will hold a book up in disgust,

“This is TOTALLY inappropriate,”

as a modern and heavily pregnant Mary goes lurching along on a donkey in a parody of Mary and Joseph, and out the book goes in the trash.

WBS stacked boxesBut mostly, these discarded and unloved books are wonderful classics and our children fall in love with them before carefully placing them in the box with the other treasures.

Wonderland BookSavers are wondering, “Who are these other unknown children?” and, “Will they like these books as much as we like them?”

And so, as the Christmas Season is upon us, we find once again that, “Giving is better than receiving.”

WBS Bounce on boxesWhat we didn’t realize is that we would be watching 4 young children locating and donating literally thousands of books to communities across the country and even across the oceans, with their motto, “Inspired by Literature.”

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is watching a small book club reach out and touch the world.

Old Yeller and the Homeschool Book Club

Happymess is hosting a new book club this year.  It is wonderful to find new children and new ways to explore classic children’s literature.

Bounce creates his own book cover

What makes a classic?  Believe it or not, this is a discussion which the kids enjoy debating every year.  Some think there is a “committee” which grants a book “classical” status.  Others are sure there is a “list.”  In actuality, it is determined by pure love of literature, granted by a doting audience that discovers the same wonderful titles and falls in love anew with outstandingly portrayed characters.  A novel becomes a classic when it succeeds in telling an enduring tale that resonates with every reader.  It is timeless in its message because it speaks to that which is human in all of us, be it through fantasy, historical fiction or mystery.

And his own back cover

The challenge to the teacher is to help new readers discover the same beauty and meaning that previous readers have known for generations.  Our new book club has given this group of homeschool buddies the opportunity to share A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and most recently, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson.  We like to discuss the major themes, examine the author’s stylistic approach and imagine ourselves in similar positions.  Each novel has inspired its own unique approach, and Old Yeller is no exception.

We began our group discussion with a series of open-ended questions, designed to explore the experience of reading Old Yeller.  We noted that the end of the story was in the beginning, as is the case with so many great pieces of literature.  We discussed how suspension of belief allows us to read the entire story, almost oblivious of the inevitable and dire ending.

The kids were excited to share their insights into this coming-of-age story as Travis struggles to be the man-of-the-house in an unforgiving world.  Travis is a hotheaded youth forced to be tolerant, responsible and hardworking.  Eventually this trio of requirements forces Travis to mature and become the “man” he wasn’t at the beginning of the story.

The open-ended discussion was inspiring but the kids felt they were ready to tackle something equally challenging:  a detailed 50-question test on specifics of Old Yeller.  We found this excellent quiz on Capo Creations:

www.nt.net/torino/old50test.html

I was truly surprised at the children’s ability to accurately recall minute details of the story.

Example:  The man who used to go from house to house getting free meals and was too lazy to go on the cattle drive was (a) Bud Searcy (b) Burn Sanderson (c) Jed Simpson (d) Bert Wilbur

I guess you will have to read the novel with a magnifying glass to find the answer to that one.  Or be a 10 year-old avid reader.

Some of the group thought they would write an essay discussing Travis’ character development, tracking the parallels in plot with Travis’ maturation.  Bounce elected to make a photo book cover, front and back, with his own synopsis on the back cover, see above.  This was really fun for Bounce as he loves his dog and can understand the dynamics of a relationship between a boy and his dog.

Our book club group has a soft side and they love to help others.  They decided that in honor of Old Yeller, and countless deserving animals just like him, they would like to help animals at a local shelter.

So, all last week our hard working book club members have scrubbed floors and babysat and ironed linens.  They earned a combined $95.00.

170 Lbs. of pet food

 

Adventure Bear joins in the mission

This morning, with a delightful break from homeschooling, we met at the local pet supply center.  After rejecting the most expensive brands, our group learned to study the “price/lb.” labels and the “sale” signs.  They carefully perused their options, lifting 50lb bags of dry cat and dog food in and out of shopping carts as they weighed their options.  Finally, after great deliberation, they purchased 170 lbs. of cat and dog food for our local animal shelter.

 And now for the best part, they got to carry all that food into the shelter and make their very own donation!  And then of course, they visited with all the animals, wishing always that we could bring them all home.  Sadly, we could not.
Old Yeller now “belongs” to this group of intrepid young readers.  They are building their very own criteria of what makes a classic.  For these homeschoolers, Old Yeller will be filled with memories of lifting 50 Lbs bags of pet food in the rain, making old-time photos with the family dog, writing short pieces about growing up, competing with one another over test questions, and crying with Travis when he finally has to choose between his family and his dog.

Now that is what makes a classic.

Let Me Count the Ways:  Homeschooling is remembering that for each child it is their first childhood, no matter how many generations have preceded them. 

Wood Works!

Our Destination Imagination team has been struggling with the technical difficulty of joining three 4’X8’  very HEAVY boards together into one unit and creating a platform on which the three boards can spin freely during their theatrical performance.  If you have been following the story you may remember that during their State competition the boards collapsed on the actors who then had to hold them up, with a smile, for the rest of the performance.  Now our team will be exhibiting their project in a local gallery.  This time the boards cannot fall down!

Frustrated with all their previous efforts, the boys are now getting serious.

They have borrowed a friends wood shop and are finally using the correct tools. (Previous efforts included trying to hot glue the boards into place!)

Math skills are actually useful!  Who knew?

Destination Imagination:  It is possible to learn a new skill and be successful!

And now for the real test.  Truth and Quantum have built a beautifully engineered base and top.  Will it fit the boards?  Will it be stable? Will it rotate?  Can the team actually put the whole thing together?  The anxiety level is high.

It works!  The boards are upright.  Quantum is afraid to .move.

Kimono of 1000 Cranes:  Dressed for Success!

Team I.C.E. (Imagine, Create, Empower) is ready for their first gallery opening, Kimono of 1000 Cranes.  It is very exciting to see all their wonderful backdrops and props on exhibit with other works of art.

Oh!  And don’t forget the famous Can-Can dancers!  They have a starring role as well.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is watching your children start with a dream, struggle through successes and failures and finally share their dreams with the world.

Sharing the Love: Our Favorite Childhood Myths are as Real as You and Me

There are discussions as to whether or not there was a “real” St. Valentine, and if so, who he really was and how he became the symbol of love.  Like concerns about the validity of St. Nick, or Santa Claus, I find the discussion irrelevant.  The “realness” of these characters is not important.  What is irrefutable is the FACT that these two saints, be they real, embellished or imagined, have brought very real love and caring into our midst.

At no time is gift giving more prevalent in our predominantly secular and me-centered world than at Christmas.  Why?  Because we all believe in the importance of Santa Claus.  We do his work on his behalf.

 Similarly, there is no better love than the love we share with others.  A few days ago on St. Valentine’s Day, our Happymess Kids and their Destination Imagination team visited a local nursing home to distribute roses and homemade cards.  AT first our group was uncomfortable with the whole idea.  They weren’t sure what they would find at the nursing home and they were afraid it would be embarrassing speaking to strangers.

“Can’t we let someone else (from our church) distribute the flowers?” they whined.  And (believe it or not!), “But we have SO much homework…”, trying to appeal to me, the rabid homeschool mother.

I firmly directed them into the car and off we went.

 One of the first women we met was Emily.  She is 107 years old.  She was truly delighted to have her rose.

 Scooter was afraid to get too close but he loved giving roses.  We stayed awhile and talked to Emily.  The children quickly realized that the flower was not the real gift.  The real gift was the visit and we made sure to stay and talk with each person.

 Annette was delightful, kind and articulate.  She put her arms out to Bounce and Scooter explaining, “We’re not scary.  We are just old

In the end, after spending almost two hours at the nursing home we found that we had visited with many people and we gathered to share our stories.  One woman asked us to put her flowers in a vase by the window so she could enjoy them.  Another began to cry when she realized the rose was for her.  Still another thought they were for sale and began searching for her purse until we could explain the rose was gift.  All of the people were pleased to have visitors and we found that we had very much enjoyed talking with everyone.  The patents had become “real” to us.  They were people too.

Team I.C.E. (Imagine, Create, Empower) was humbled.  They were no longer embarrassed.  They really connected with the needs of the patients and felt that they had been able to bring joy through the gift of a simple rose and a moment of shared  kindness.

Now they are planning their next visit:  daffodils for Easter.

 Is St Valentine real?  Absolutely, every bit as real as the Easter bunny.  We could have visited the nursing home at any time, but we didn’t.  We went to honor the holiday of love.  We were sent by St. Valentine, whomever that may be.  And we are grateful.

Next we look forward to helping out the Easter bunny on his mysterious missions.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is learning that sharing love with those less fortunate is a gift we can give ourselves.