In Volume 4, Book II, Part I, Section I, Chapter I (really), Charlotte Mason says that no Mansoul is left without the sense of ought. I Ought means something like "I owe you one"; that is, there is a sense of somebody else involved. You can't owe money without owing it to someone, and there's always something marking that agreement: an I.O.U., a contract, or just a handshake. Our reminder that we owe ourselves to God is the thing called Conscience.
In Jan Karon's Mitford novel Light from Heaven, Father Tim has a confrontation with Sammy, a troubled young man who has moved in. Sammy complains that he's never had to follow so many rules before ("no cussin', no smokin'") and that it's too much to handle. Father Tim says he understands why it's hard for Sammy, since he's parented himself until now. Then he explains the purpose of rules in a way very close to what Charlotte Mason says here (p. 6): "Judging is saving. It is the continual calling of us back from wrong ways, which injure and ruin, into right ways of peace and happiness." Like the daycare in Toy Story 3, why would we choose the free-for-all of the Caterpillar Room over the safety and sanity of the Butterfly Room?
Well, like Sammy, sometimes we choose the chaos that's familiar. Or we think we can do better on our own, because then at least we have the satisfaction of nobody telling us what to do. Kneeling before anyone is not very popular these days.
But here's Mason's caution: "It is not enough to act according to our lights, if we choose to carry a dim wick in a dirty lantern, when we might have a good light" (p. 7, italics hers). And that's the whole thing. God is not taking, he's giving. He wants us to have something better. Father Tim doesn't have a plan to make Sammy miserable; he wants them to enjoy a home together. When Sammy chooses against "cussin' and smokin'," he's acknowledging that relationship.
When we live in the full light of Conscience...our Light from Heaven...we can't help recognizing the One who created it.
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