Monday, November 20, 2017

Christmas Countdown with Charlotte Mason, Week 8 of 12: Every lesson goes somewhere

5 weeks till Christmas!

Here is this week's passage from Charlotte Mason's book Parents and Children.
"The Self-regarding Child no longer Humble––But these are the least of the reasons why a child should be trained to put up with little discomforts and take no notice. The child who has been allowed to become self-regardful in the matter of sensations, as of appetites, has lost his child's estate, he is no longer humble; he is in the condition of thinking about himself; instead of that infinitely blessed condition of not being aware of himself at all...though a child may cry with sudden distress, he does not really think about his aches and pains unless his thoughts be turned to his ailments by those about him.  
"No Spartan Regimen––I am not advising any Spartan regimen. It is not permitted to us to inflict hardness in order that the children may learn to endure. Our care is simply to direct their consciousness from their own sensations...At the same time, though the child himself be taught to disregard them, his sensations should be carefully watched by his elders, for they must consider and act upon the danger signals which the child himself must be taught to disregard. But it is usually possible to attend to a child's sensations without letting him know they have been observed."
In the spirit of Charlotte Mason:

This is the last bit in the chapter about protecting children's natural disinclination to self-obsession, and reflecting on what adults can learn from being around them. We are assured here that what may sound harsh (don't be too quick to fuss over every bump) is actually a reminder that parents need to keep their eyes open for their children's needs, without noticeably interfering. In one sense it requires an impossible amount of wisdom and discernment; but it can also be a simple outgrowth of our own will to live without self-obsession and self-importance. It is a form of "masterly inactivity," that also teaches children to quietly, respectfully, and non-intrusively care in the same way for the needs of others. 

And why? Why are we doing this? And what does it have to do with the themes of Advent?

Consider this passage posted by Danny Breed at the Circe blog:

"As we sat around a table during staff training, listening to a talk, three of my teachers and I heard a familiar refrain that begged to be pondered: 'The glory of God must be the aim in our teaching...'

"We began talking about the purpose and end of a lesson. Every lesson is going to go somewhere and it is going to make much of something, if there is any weight and wonder to it. To glorify God is to make much of God and to glorify anything else is to make much of that something else. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God showed Moses Himself by walking in front of him. Thus glory and glorifying is tied to some aspect of showing off how great God is."
Danny Breed may have been talking about school lessons, but...quietly, respectfully, non-obtrusively...our everyday lives are also lessons. What's it about, that idea of being able to get over a small hurt quickly?--not just learning courage and taking steps toward maturity, but being able to take our eyes off ourselves altogether and glorify God. The point of not complaining?--to allow us to see God's glory, and how can we do that if we're focused on our own circumstances?. "Every lesson is going to go somewhere, and it is going to make much of something." That something, in Charlotte Mason's words, is meant to be something, or Someone, outside of ourselves. It is not just how we live, but why we live.
"Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given..."
This will be hanging on our apartment door soon

Things to Do This Week:

My fourth-grade Christmas play was Judith Martin's "The Runaway Presents." (I got to wear a large, very uncomfortable cardboard box.) The main character, Mrs. Hurry-up, sings this song: "Wrap and tie, wrap and tie, I should have started in July."
December 25th will come before we know it and be gone again, even if the presents run away on us. 

So what's to do this week without rushing things too much? And how do our preparations glorify God?

If we cook or bake for a celebration (like Thanksgiving), maybe the glorifying is not in the sugar or the flour or the cranberries, but in the gift of those who work together to prepare it, and those will share it together. Even those who clean up afterwards.

The glorifying in a decoration, or in playing uplifting music, might be in a prayer that those who see it or hear it will sense our joy.
"Mamy, who lived in a small house next to Lord's Chapel, couldn't imagine why people would want to go to church in the middle of the night. She did confess however, that as she became increasingly wakeful in her old age, the midnight service was something to look forward to, as, however faint it might be, she could hear the singing." ~~ Jan Karon, Shepherds Abiding
On the quiet side, how about staying warm with a good book (again)? Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books, and Me just posted a lovely holiday reading list for grownups which includes Shepherds Abiding. Consider also Father Tim's vacation reading list from To Be Where You Are: "Travels with Charley, The Book of Common Prayer...The Oxford Book of English Verse, Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar, several novels by dead authors, plenty of Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, and Wendell Berry...and a volume of Wordsworth for old times' sake." To which I might add, To Be Where You Are.
Fresh from the thrift store

Finally, here's some online inspiration: The Prudent Homemaker shares Ten Ways to Add Joy to Your Life When You Don't Have a Penny to Spare.

1 comment:

Amy Marie said...

Ooo. Ouch. To watch FOR their children's needs. Very good point. Being present.