The Baby of the Nativity scene is newborn, small. But babies grow, and we need to see the Christ as not only increasingly "older," but as larger, deeper. Not only the Lamb, but the Lion. In Prince Caspian, when Lucy meets Aslan again, she says, "You're bigger." He answers, "Every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
Those who have read Ourselves Book I are familiar with the divisions of our inner selves: the House of Body, House of Mind, and House of Heart, governed by the Conscience and the Will; and also the Soul, "that within us which has capacity for the knowledge and love of God..." (Book II, p. 4). In the House of Body, the Conscience oversees the work of four quaint-sounding servants: Temperance, Chastity, Fortitude, and Prudence.
How do we learn to employ Temperance and the others wisely, but not let them run riot (like the Appetites of Book I )? Life lessons, Mason says; but also books. Books, books, books, to read and re-read: yes, Mason fans, re-reading wonderful books is good. "The book that helps us deserves many readings, for assimilation comes by slow degrees." And not in a checklist of "temperance stories" or "prudent characters," but given to us naturally, bit by bit, as we're drawn in by stories, poems, plays, biographies. We read about characters who embody Fortitude, who are saved by Prudence, who choose to be Chaste. We also recognize the fainthearted, the spendthrifts, and the gluttons. And we pass all those images on to our Conscience-judge.
What happens if we let any one of those servants get out of control? "There is no freak [i.e. health fad] of the moment," Mason insists, "...for which Reason is not capable of being enlisted as special pleader." Reason is an expert loophole-finder and explanation-giver, but he misses the big picture: the One who created those principles for our good, not for our obsession. Mason herself was very much concerned about health, wool clothing, un-fusty rooms, and all the rest of it. But she's talking here about the opposite of carelessness, which is over-caring, over-doing the self-concern. To draw a parallel from the world of clothing, there's a post on the Minimalist Wardrobe blog that says, essentially, "Stop counting your clothes!" The more we agonize over getting such things perfect, the harder it is to hear the voice of One saying, "Don't worry about what you will eat, or put on...God cares for sparrows and lilies, and He's got this one too." No overworries. No underworries.
Reading, and then re-reading: we assimilate the mind-food, and we grow in grace and wisdom. It's a gift that keeps on giving.