Walking to the dining hall, I see a small stone pond with a recycling waterfall, whose edges are frozen white. If I look closely, I can see orange and the faint movement of carp leaning on hibernation for survival. Along the pond’s edges, daffodil’s yellow blooms are pressing through the brown leaves.
And snowflakes begin to dance in the breeze.
Though winter lingers long, signs of spring will press through with new life.
An older gentleman sits in the corner playing, In the Bleak Mid Winder, as we as hymns on a Mountain Dulcimer laid across his lap. My soul exhales as if I have been holding my breath for years.
It is about thirty degrees outside. A woman sits by the window and knits, with teal yarn, a neck warmer that she will wear later in the week. It is not long before other women, older and younger, come and begin to show each other their yarn art.
Doc is out hammering copper into a lamp, and I am writing by a fireplace built of river stone.
We are at John C. Campbell Fold School, learning early American Arts and Crafts. This trip is our anniversary present to each other. A lodge with cabins and workshops are scattered across the 300 acres. This is a school dedicated to everything from learning to make jewelry and brooms, to blacksmithing, wood carving, yarn art and yes, writing.
John C. Campbell and his wife Olive Dame stocked a covered wagon in the early 1900’s they called the traveling home, and set off into the mountains of Georgia and West Virginia, on a humanitarian effort to improve the lives of the mountain people through education.
John died before seeing his dream of a school to better educate the mountain people, as well as preserving the crafts and techniques and tools they used in their everyday life.
After his death, Olive and her friend, Marguerite Butler, went to Denmark, Sweden and other countries studying the Fokehjskole or “folk high school.” These “schools of life” as they were referred to, transformed the Danish countryside using the creativity of the arts and crafts of the community. Olive and Marguerite chose Brasstown, North Carolina as the location for their dream to be realized.
In 1925 the John C. Campbell Fold School began.
The Danes call this method of teaching, “the Living Word.” They teach not by always reading and writing, but by conversation. Sitting side by side, they teach the ones coming behind them by demonstration and conversation.
The snow outside has increased now, causing the trees to bend in a posture of prayer. Stepping outside for a short walk, I wander down the path.
It is the presence of the Living Word.
He is speaking all around us, inviting us to walk with him in the profound silence of the Living Word speaking.
As I reenter the Lodge, I see a fallen tree with new growth coming out of the dead bark. It is a young spring that will be the next generation of tree and continue the life of these woods.
And God whispers words written, now showing me an example in the living,
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4)
And the man with the Mountain Dulcimer in his lap plays, Pass it on.
That is the point, isn’t it – to pass it the Living Word. Not just a leather-bound book of ink and onion-skins, but the passing with eyes of love, with words leaving aged lips to rest on young hearts.
We pass on the Living Word as we teach young hands to shovel snow, and weld needle and thread. I remember making Christmas ornaments with my children gluing red threads around Styrofoam balls.
I tell them about how the red reminds us of the Blood of Jesus that makes us new, and how the Evergreen reminds us of eternal life and that we will be together forever in heaven.
I think about how I taught my granddaughter to write her name on a pillowcase in pink thread and telling her how she was woven together by God.
The Living Word is not just read from a book but experienced with those we hold so dear.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons (and daughters) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Do you see Him, friend? The Living Word is present, growing and moving all around you? He is speaking to you from a place of love, a place of wanting to show you how it works, and how to use it to make your life successful.
Would you share today the whispering of the Living Word in your life?
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