Summer Breeze

[A note:  I started this post on June 14, 2009, and finally was able to finish it today.  That explains the time differences, if anyone would have noticed them!]

I hope I never forget those afternoons last May when we were going without air conditioner.  (We mostly made it until June, by the way, but I’m not strong enough to do without when it’s getting up over 90 degrees every day!)  I’d be trying to get the girls down for a nap, and it seemed so hot, and just a little breeze would come in through the open window, and it felt so cool and refreshing…how I praised God for those little breezes!

I had occasion to remember those afternoons yesterday while I was helping my father-in-law shovel dirt/tree shavings from a pile the size of our living room into wheelbarrows to deliver to various gardens around the house.  It was too hot, and just the time of day when we probably should have been inside, or at least in the shade, but my father-in-law doesn’t believe in leaving for later work that can be finished now, so I was out helping.  And here and there we would get a cool breath of wind, and well, I would almost fall down in rapturous praise.

Silently, of course.

Because my father-in-law, though respectful, is not a religious man.  (Unless you count the cult of LSU in some way, which I do not.)  He does, however, have a great appreciation for nature.  He and I share a yearning for mountains and forests, wild things as yet untamed.  He brings what he can of this nature into his gardens, where he spends hours digging, potting, transplanting, mulching, and doing all those little things which I hope I’ll learn as I try to grow my own little patches of paradise.  It is not worship, I don’t think, but there is certainly sacrifice involved!  For me, as I think I’ve said before, gardening can be a very spiritual experience, a chance to slow down and appreciate the wonderous creation God has put on this earth for us.  I had to wonder, as I tried not to swoon from joy during one of those welcome breezes, what does my father-in-law feel out here?

Because it seems to me that if there is anywhere that it should be easy to meet God, it must be in nature.  Of course you can meet Him in the Eucharist, in other people, in great art; but I think that in these sort of places, you more often have to be looking.  God can give you the flash of knowing, like Merton on the street corner in Louisville, but I have to think that experience would be hard to take when you are not disposed to try and see other people as your brothers and sister.  Out in His creation (as opposed to our concrete creations – there’s another post!), where He made the rules, there are fewer hangups – no race, to gender, no strange clothing or hair colors.  No maniacal drivers to dodge.  No repetitive, square, bland, (and did I mention repetitive?) buildings.  Everything sings the praise and glory of our God, every creature joins in extolling how wondrously it is made, how carefully its designs fit together with its surroundings so that all survive and thrive.  It is a simple kind beauty, in the way, I think, that we speak of God as “simple”.

So standing there, wondering these things, shovel in hand, mother-in-law’s straw hat on my head, those little breaths of wind brought me more refreshment than relief for my steaming body.  They carried to me, for those whom I love who doubt, a little breath of hope.

Man’s Power over Nature?

“Let us consider three typical examples:  the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive.  In a civilized community, in peace-time, anyone who can pay for them may use these things.  But it cannot strictly be said that when he does so he is exercising his own proper or individual power over Nature.  If I pay you to carry me, I am not therefore myself a strong man.  Any or all of the three things I have mentioned can be witheld from some men by other men–by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of producion, or those who make the goods.  What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by.  Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda.  And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those alread alive.  By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer.  From this point of view, what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercied by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

This week’s news

We are experimenting to see how long we can survive without air conditioning. I’m shooting for Memorial Day. (We will get a respite on Mother’s Day, since Craig’s parents are coming over and I’m not going to impose this penance on anyone else!) We didn’t use it last month, and our electric bill was less than 1/3 of what it had been. We’ve been spending lots of time outside (in the shade mostly!) and leaving the house open for the breeze. It’s not terrible, just a little uncomfortable, and I have a new appreciation for those little breaths of cool air!

One benefit of being outside so much is all the nature we get to see in our own back yard. We found a frog in the laundry closet! Here is a pic, and we have a video of it making its escape, as well, but it’s too big to post at the moment. These are the sort of things I am really, really looking forward to with homeschooling.


My book list on the side has been updated. I’m on a homeschooling binge at the moment, re-reading Elizabeth Foss’s wonderful book, as well as a couple of new ones Craig decided to order from Amazon rather than get from interlibrary loan.

Our seniors are done with school, and we will be, too, at the end of the month. I just have one quiz and exams left to make!! This is all very exciting, and coupled with the encouraging homeschooling reading, is giving me back some of the energy I’ve been lacking lately.

Here are a few more pictures of the girls doing what they do.

Samantha attempting to eat grass.


Lucy drawing.  The Easter eggs she made at Grandma’s months ago have been recycled into Easter season decorations (on the wall behind her).  Most of them have now been removed and the stickers rearranged again (and again).

Lucy Writing

Lucy’s block house.

Lucy's house

Samantha is teething like a mad woman and enjoys the pieces of Lucy’s puzzle.

Samantha and blocks

Cutting play-doh


Clearly, it’s been a busy week.  : )