LANDSCAPES OF LIFE, LEARNING JOURNEYS, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

OPEN A BOOK OPEN THE WORLD

Library of Congress Book Festival


For this year’s Library of Congress Book Festival in September, the theme was “Open a Book, Open the World.” This really resonated with me as that was the maxim of my grandfather’s world as well. As children, he always encouraged us to read. He told us if we could read, there was nothing we could not learn to do; the world would always be open.

FARM SCHOOL MODEL


My grandfather was so right. He grew up in an era of large families. Schools were few and far between, so a tutor was employed to teach the children. My great grandfather employed a Cambridge graduate to teach his children. He also built a schoolroom on the farm, so the neighborhood children also were able to benefit. Based on the model of learning he had undergone, my grandfather taught us. He would make us look up words in the dictionary, learn what they meant and how to spell them. He would make us collect wildflowers and herbs and bring them back to the house, where we had to look through reference books to find them to identify them, and so my love of books was born.

wooden school structure in park
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CLASSROOM UNDER THE TREES


As a foundation pupil at the local school, the headmaster did not have time to teach us because of his other duties, so we were told to take books out of the stockroom, sit under the trees, and read. Our class was probably the most educated that year as we read our way through the entire stockroom!
I am thinking of today’s children with online learning; the world is open to them at the push of a few buttons. For many, reading a book is a real challenge; it is not something they enjoy. Is it too easy to access knowledge? Do they find it harder to discern what to read? Are the options too many? I don’t know what the answer is as I have struggled with my grandchildren getting them to enjoy reading as I had done.

girls sitting under the tree
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ADVENTUROUS WORLD OF BOOKS


For me, there was nothing more enjoyable than taking a book, something to eat, climb a tree and enjoy the world I was reading about undisturbed. I lived in these worlds. They opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of a small town in a small country. I longed to travel the world, see the places I read about, experience the different cultures and foods, meet new people, and have adventures. An exciting world lay outside my immediate boundaries, but I could enjoy it vicariously through the books I was reading. Later I set about enjoying these adventures in reality when I became an adult.

woman reading book at daytime, leaning against the tree
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THE PRIVILEDGE AND POTENTIAL OF LIBRARIES


I was thrilled when the Library of Congress, one of the most extensive Libraries in the world, chose their theme, “Open a Book, Open the World.” I would love someone to tell me how to inspire young people again to enjoy the worlds within two covers. Modern children have so many more privileges than generations before them and have access to more knowledge that will help them advance in the world than previous generations. How do we help them understand that nothing can stop them from reaching their potential once they can read?

books in black wooden book shelf
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TRANSLATIONS AND INSPIRATION


I would love to hear stories of how books have inspired you to have adventures or go on to achieve things you would not have been able to do without that knowledge or inspiration. Books can help you learn new ways of interacting with the world, spiritually and emotionally too. I found the King James Version of the Bible almost a foreign language and hard to understand. Modern translations have helped simplify and interpret Scriptures in a more understandable way for the modern reader, without detracting from the truth but enhancing it, making it easier to apply to twenty first century life. Devotional books make it easier to connect with God through inspiring stories and prayers.

selective focus photo of person holding the Bible
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com


Thank you to the Library of Congress for once again reminding us that Books are our Passport to the world, both seen and unseen, real and imagined, past, present, and future worlds. Time to get down to the Library and find what is new on the Shelves!

Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

FINDING MEANING IN LIFE AGAIN

Article and Photos by Denise Mclaughlan

Denise continues to share her Festive Journey, how she in turn was inspired by her grandmother. How often we just need the example of someone who has done something before to inspire us on our own journeys. It seems their courage can synthesise and help us get a firm grip to say yes to life.

Highlights of my life in these past 28 years was a month-long visit to Italy with a friend, learning to speak some Italian in preparation, and the wonder of travelling at will with no pre- bookings.  Did I mention that I have an adventurous spirit?

Another venture I particularly enjoyed was my long-distance train trips over a five-year period from Cape Town to Johannesburg – a 1800km distance with one-night sleepover – to visit old school friends and attend some reunions. Despite the fears that many South Africans have about train travel in S A, I took it on wholeheartedly, meeting people of other cultures and feeling like a true adventurer. Of course, the lure was also my memory of childhood train trips since my dad was a railwayman. I had a few interesting encounters on that ShosalozaMeyl train!

To get back to the adventurous spirit, which I think has come not only from my brave grandmother who went overseas alone at the age of 78, but also the fact that I have been blessed with lots of energy and good health. As an extrovert I enjoy new places and faces! I like to be stimulated whether it is by reading all kinds of books, joining a photography group, doing computer courses, or enjoying music theatre and movies. I simply love swimming and am not fussy…river, dam, pool or a cold Atlantic sea!

A very meaningful part throughout my life has been writing – letters, diary keeping and then journaling. I love describing places and experiences, also tried my hand at a spot of poetry and then of course my Quiet times with the Lord is also affirmed in the journal. I usually use different devotional books like the wonderful Streams in the Desert By Mrs LB Cowman,    Come to me Beloved My Beloved by Frances J Roberts,    Joyce Meyer and a more recently I have used a book “ Fear is Never your Friend by Gary L Richardson. When I still get depressed or anxious it helps to write about it and to take stock of where you are in your life. I tend to do a fair amount of introspection.

Now in my 70’s I realised a dream to go back to camping and road trips (in my married years we caravanned and had an old Land rover) I missed the great outdoors and after watching a lot of Youtube videos about camper conversions and solo road trips, I managed to find someone to adapt my relatively small Mazda Soho 1,4 into a tour car. I have a full-length bed, some side cubbyholes for packing and storage under the bed for small tent, camping chair and other camping gear. I did two solo road trips and described the fun I had in some newsletters which I sent out via Facebook and e-mail. I then acquired a blow-up 2-man canoe which my son and I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, I had to undergo shoulder surgery and have been out of action for around 7 weeks.  Yes I am feeling the pitfalls of ageing in that I get stiff when sitting, my knee seems to be playing up, I drink all the usual pills  – but what is keeping me young are my thoughts and attitude- I try to stay positive and adapt to changes. I take stock of all the aspects of my life regularly and am dabbling with the new buzzwords – living mindfully!  I endeavour to stay in the here and now- to notice the small things around me; to forgive and forget, to take the best out of my past and hand over the control of my future to God my Father.

Denise has brought so much meaning into her life by being aware of her thoughts and attitudes, it can be so easy to slump into negative thoughts and attitudes, she has spent a lot of time cultivating the garden of her mind, pulling out the weeds of toxic thinking and replacing them with positive and affirming thoughts, this all manifests in her being able to take on her Festive Journey and enjoy the life she has been given. How about you? Do comment and let us know how you have taken something negative and made something positive out of it.