Today the students began with a little bit of classroom time here at the Manor. Nasa, our campus shepherd asked them all to separate for 45 minutes, stay quiet, and write about what is going on in their heart at the time…in a poem. At first the jaws dropped and there was not a great deal of enthusiasm following this instruction. His intention was to have the students be alone with their own heart, thoughts, and a piece of paper…something that this generation does not often experience with TV, video games, etc. We all met back together in the classroom (which is here at the manor) and the students each drew numbers. Then, they each read their poem aloud. As a staff, this was one our most favorite, cherished moments here in Ireland. There was a real, raw vulnerability amongst our students that was so refreshing to experience. Some intimate details and very personal struggles were shared in the beautiful art of poetry. Tears were shed, applause was given, and the was an evident remembrance of just how beautiful this family is. Here are a few of the writings from the beautiful, quiet, rainy morning that we had here today.
I know you say that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but this longing to be beautiful just won’t fade,
Each day is a battle to be content with the mirror,
I’m fighting so hard but I never win.
I’m exhausted from the comparing, critiquing, and covering.
I see my flaws as mistakes- but I can’t forget you have created me perfectly.
God captivate my thoughts and remind me that YOU make me beautiful.
-Link Year Female, age 19
The people in here are surely the best,
although my love for them is hard to express.
We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve been through it all,
and for most our growth has been anything but small.
I can’t really speak for everyone in here,
But I see them as family and hold them all near.
God brought us all here with purpose in hand,
To love one another and walk in His plan.
The people here are truly the best,
and my love for them can only be expressed,
as sisters, and brothers, the only family I know.
Life after Link Year is surely going to blow.
These people are my favorite, and hopefully they know,
But our time isn’t over and we can still grow.
-Link Year Male, age 18
In preparation for our afternoon visiting the different places along the CS Lewis Trail we watched “Shadowland,” a movie about the later years of his life, last night as a class. We loaded up the bus after lunch today and headed out for several stops that bare some significance to the life and or writings of CS Lewis. The students really enjoyed this, as many are familiar and quite fond of the renowned author. Most of them have read his popular book series, “The Chronicles of Narnia” or seen the recent movies inspired by these magnificent literary works. CS Lewis was born, baptized and raised in Belfast, so there is a great deal ofhistory and inspiration for his writings here in the city. As a class, over Christmas break they were also responsible for reading another one of Lewis’ writings, “Mere Christianity.” At each stop, two of our students educated us on the significance of the location…here is what Connor and Alexis have to say!
Little Lea: When Lewis was only six years old they moved to Leeborough or as Lewis called it “Little Lea.” Little Lea is the house built by Albert Lewis for his wife in 1905 on the outskirts of Belfast in Strandtown. This is where Lewis obtained quite a bit of his inspiration for his novels. One of the most famous things about this house is that inside of it was the wardrobe that inspired the Chronicles of Narnia.
Bronze Statue: The Bronze statue is a life sized bronze sculpture of Digory Kirke. It sits outside Holywood Library and is called The Searcher. Digory was C.S. Lewis’ fictional character from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It brings to life the characters and depicts what we can only imagine from reading the book. There is a letter on the back of the statue that Lewis wrote to a young girl inquiring the characters in the Narnia stories. His answer explains the Gospel story behind his movies, this was a really interesting feature on the statue.
Lampstand: CS Lewis attended Campbell’s College for a few years in 1910 before he went to Oxford University. Here he studied under who he considered his most influential teacher, Lewis Alden. On the corner of the campus at the end of the road was a lampstand, but not just any lampstand. Lewis walked past this campus marker everyday, and the structure inspired the lampstand that is described to be seen when the children enter Narnia from the Wardrobe.
Dundella Villas – This was the house where Lewis’ parents Albert and Flora lived in Belfast prior to the design and building Little Lea. The Villas have now been demolished and replaced with a school. There is however a blue plaque on the side wall of the school in remembrance of the Lewis family that lived there.
Church: St. Marks Church holds the history of Lewis’ baptism. There is a stained glass window dedicated to his parents on the inside. We attended this church on Sunday, and the previous blog goes into more detail on this beautiful church.
Lion: The building next door is now property of the church, though we are not sure exactly what this building was used for during the time that Lewis attended. Significant to his story is the silver lion’s head that adorns the door of this building. It is said to be his inspiration for Aslan in the Narnia story.
Wardrobe: Lewis’ mother was a teacher and also attended Queens University. Recently, the University purchased the Wardrobe doorway from Disney that was used in the recent movies. Through this door is the C.S. Lewis reading room. The walls are decorated with inspiring quotes from many of his works.