Sunday, December 09, 2018

Christmas C.M. Countdown, Day 9

"The object of this little book is to introduce to themselves any who are not yet acquainted with their own worth..." (p. 108)

Among the Instructors of Conscience listed in Ourselves Book II are Sociology and Self-Knowledge (chapter XVI). Sociology, Charlotte Mason says, is "how other people live." And, she says (in a way that is eerily like our own time), we see needs, we have generous hearts, we want to help and it's Christmas. So we hand out coins and put toys in the toy drive...but then we are frustrated with these quick band-aids, this "promiscuous charity," and we go the other way, so much afraid of helping-that-is-hurting that we hold back from anything more than, maybe, a donation to the Kidney Fund.
"[How shall we] find the particular piece of brotherly work appointed for us to do?" (p. 105)
Mason's solution is perceptive and simple: we must "lay ourselves out for instruction," and then act on "that principle of love which alone gives us a right to do service to others": finding out what people want before we impose our "help." She calls for acts of love that are both discriminating and considerate, that understand "the greatness of the poorest human soul." Often, she says, the best opportunities are right outside our doors.

And what about our own issues? "To know ourselves is wisdom," Mason says (p. 106). Like the problem of outreach,  bad experiences or misplaced humility can keep us  from desiring self-awareness. But if we don't know the wealth we have, it's the same as not having it (have you ever read A Girl of the Limberlost?).
"...the Son of Man came to show us all that we may be when we do not reject the indwelling of our God." (p. 107)
Imagine something like Harvest Community School in South Carolina (to name just one place), where children of all ages and backgrounds are included, where they learn to love the natural world around them, where they share books and music and celebrations. To understand your place in such a school would mean seeing yourself in relationship to all that's around you, and then asking yourself what you could do to make that place and that community even better.

So what self-knowledge is the right sort? Celebration of our inheritance! Our Personsoul lands and woods and streams! The fact that we're made in God's image, to be His children, and that we share something of His nature not only with Him but with other humans! (Now we're back to Sociology! Well, we do not live in a vacuum.)

Mason ends her section on the Instruction of Conscience with a note of encouragement. The Conscience does not exist in a lab or a classroom, to be constantly prodded, analyzed, and tested for optimum functioning.  Decide to know, she says, and then go live. It's that simple.


GretchenJoanna said...

Wow - thank you for this little lesson with concrete examples of living it. Yes, Go live.

A related experience (I think): Many years ago my sister-in-law gave a Christmas present in our name, or gave us a Christmas present, of a whale in the ocean. I can't remember exactly how that worked... Or was it a dolphin? Anyway, something endangered she was letting us take care of with her gift. Hmmm....

Fast forward 20 years, and I had the urge to give "education for one year" to a girl in Afghanistan, so I am giving my $58 gift in this s-i-l's name, because I know she won't be offended, and she would be all for educating women.

I know, this is a bit of a stretch from educating the conscience, but it's about giving, at least!

I don't know how I missed your blog for so long, but I enjoyed it so much in the past and will try to renew my checking-in habit.

Mama Squirrel said...

So nice to see you here, and thanks for all the thoughtful comments!