Two days before turning twenty-two for the second time (I decided that I liked being twenty-two so much that I would just stay twenty-two for another year), I walked in to a second-grade classroom. . . my second-grade classroom.

When I first moved here to New Mexico, with a new ring and a new name, I was happily hermited in our little base camp (of which I intend to share pictures soon), happy in the creation of the atmosphere of our home and our life together. We have not finished this creation, of course; it is the endeavor of a lifetime. But at least the flavor of this atmosphere has in many ways been set, and I have of late felt the need for another pursuit: for growth in knowledge and proficiency, for intellectual and literary stimulation, for a community in which to thrive. My heart had grown a little parched here in the high desert of New Mexico. Several months ago, through God’s gracious orchestration of events, I found my way to Oak Grove Classical Academy, a Christ-centered, university-model classical school about fifteen minutes from base camp. A well in the desert.

“‘Do you hear?’ said the little prince. ‘We have awaked this well, and it is singing.”‘

(Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince)

Here I have stumbled upon community: a community of believers who are dedicated to growing in the knowledge of Christ, of His beauty and truth and grace. A community who live their lives reading and learning. . . drawing in beauty into their bones and pouring it out again, as Elizabeth Goudge writes of in ‘Pilgrim’s Inn.’ I was invited to join a group of women who make the time to gather monthly to read and discuss literature…not as an escape from their children, but in part to demonstrate to their children that the process of learning and growing does not stop when you graduate, nor when you are well-and-truly an adult, or married, or managing mortgage and homeschooling.

And by the grace of God, I not only get to be a part of this community, spurred on by it and held accountable by it, but I get to participate in the Conversation that has been going on for thousands of years. I have the intense privilege of pouring, as accurately as I can, the beauty and splendor and wisdom of the God we serve into thirteen small minds twice a week.

Perhaps, if these things were relative, the task of teaching them would not be so daunting. But they are not. Neither truth, righteousness, nor even beauty are relative. Our perfect and holy God sets an absolute standard for each, and woe betide the person who calls good bad and bad good. . . and particularly the person who leads little children astray. It is a responsibility which I take on with gravity and soberness, this instructing of little children. It is a task about which I am both deeply thrilled and thoroughly terrified.

C. S. Lewis describes the teacher’s task as “irrigating deserts.” To irrigate, you must have water. . .and I have been sent scurrying to irrigate my own mind, to pursue knowledge and beauty and truth so that I may pour it out again, accurately, into the minds of my students. And in so doing, I feel that I have taken a draught of the water I have been craving for many months. It is as though, in the books and habits and community in which I have found myself immersed, I have found a well in the desert. . . and the more deeply I drink, the more I crave. And though teaching and reading have kept me quite busy (particularly when combined with rock climbing, spontaneous weekend trips, and home life…which, again, I hope to write of soon), I intend to take some time weekly to pour out a little of that water here; or, perhaps, only to scribble some of the swirling thoughts in my head. Will you join me in the Conversation?

‘I’m on the shore now of the wildest river…’

(Chris Rice, Thirsty)

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