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National Editorials & Columns

Literacy helps us be an architect of our environment

A writer writes; that’s what we do. We hope we write something people want to digest, agree or disagree with directly or indirectly.

The heroics of words on paper is that the writer reveals himself/herself. Things sure sound easier when they are written, then when they are lived. The people I admire most are those who live out their words even when it isn’t easy.

Stories tap us on the shoulders and get our attention. I enjoy going back and forth between reading fiction and nonfiction. In truth, fiction sounds more believable at times, maybe because the author can manipulate it to do so. 

In real life relationships, emotional cancer enters our life in many forms and one of them is the inability to forgive. From a Christian standpoint, Martinson describes forgiveness. No matter your perspective there are nuggets of truth in his description.

Martinson describes several dimensions of forgiveness:  Contrition, which means accepting reality, being radically honest and taking responsibility for our actions. This begins in the presence of God, others, and ourselves. Forgiveness always costs a lot, but not to forgive costs more. 

The second is confession, which means using words to bridge and explain the reality of our actions, not to offer excuses. The third is absolution, which means acting differently. Forgiveness takes the shattered pieces of a heart and heals them. But forgiveness costs. 

The fourth is restoration of life, meaning beginning anew. We choose not to do what we did wrong again.

So how does this fit into literacy? Literacy helps us be an architect of our environment. The family develops around a couple. The wedding is publically saying we plan to commit to each other and our community.

We make vows to each other, but we also make vows to the two families we originate from, to any future additions to our nuclear family by birth, adoption, or acceptance of those already there. We make vows to our community also.  Some of those vows are emotional, some mental, some spiritual.

In my husband’s family, the same year we married, so did one sister and one brother.  All three of us will celebrate our 50th in 2013. Remember I mentioned that my husband and I met at one of his brother-in-law’s funeral and there were five children under the age of 6.

Two years later, Larry’s sister married again and this man didn’t just become a step-father, he chose to be a father and he raised those children with all the love anyone could give. Children have an identity beyond the family’s identity. 

Those children were raised to love and respect their biological father, but they equally loved and respected this man who chose to become their father. Every child is an uncut diamond and parents are master diamond cutters. Their responsibilities are to guide the diamond so its best brilliance will add to the world. Families come in all sizes and shapes and circumstances, but developing relationships is of the utmost importance.

Summarizing is evidence of clear thinking and from time to time we need to summarize our goals and even our relationships. Quality relationships mean that you care for each other warts and all. You both protect each other and challenge each other.

I started this column out with a writer writes, but a reader determines what is said. Often I’ve written something with a very specific purpose in mind and someone tells me what I wrote and it wasn’t anywhere close to what I intended. 

Was I wrong in my intent? No! Was the reader wrong in his intent? No! Literacy combines those two widely ranged ideas and fills in the gaps. Both are richer; the writer learns what at least one reader saw and the reader learns that he was able to flesh out thinking that enriches everyone.

Summary is a mnemonic device. If it is something you must remember, actually write and rewrite a summary. I have found that summarizing it and making it fit on a 3-by-5 index card forces me to get to the meat of what I need to remember or analyze.

This is a helpful skill to use in scrapbooking which is making memories come alive. Relationships are about creating living memories.

Literacy is also a chance to write out our thoughts and feelings whether we write them for private use or to be printed for others to read. I find acrostics fun to write because they look a little like poetry and I enjoy poetry though I can’t write it.

Here is my literacy acrostic.  Compare it with yours.

Learn by reading, writing, listening, and thinking.

Involve my mind with a variety of knowledge opportunities.

Train my mind to see beyond myself and into the world of others.

   Edit what I believe, so I become more faithful to my beliefs.

Race towards a worthy goal.

Act in ways that show compassion to others and their ideas.

Call upon the knowledge of others, so my knowledge will be expanded.

Yearn to reach out and touch the mind of others.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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