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Monks, Charlotte Mason & Me

I cannot help but feel something of the monastic as I plan our school year this year. I can’t but feel like I think some of those Irish monks must have felt as they narrowed their focus- away from the chaos and danger of the world around them, that wild and wooly time we call the Dark Ages. As they methodically, day in and day out, worked to preserve a culture that was no longer relevant or necessary. Preserved writing and art and histories and literatures that seemed woefully out of touch with “real world’ needs.

As I sit this summer and plan- the news drones in the back of my mind. I could focus on that and fall into a pit of fret or worry but homeschooling and Charlotte Mason offer my mind another channel. I have to admit- sometimes what I am doing feels small, feels insignificant. Sometimes it feels naive and irrelevant in light of the upheavels our world is facing; the dangers, the tensions, the political wranglings that are swirling around my little nest. But rather than despair at the noise around me- I try to hear that still small voice, the voice of God. I try to hear what He has for me today, today… not tomorrow or next week or next year, but today. And today I hear him whisper, “Carry on.” And so I do. I narrow my focus- off of the things that I can’t affect. I channel my thoughts to the good and the beautiful. To the feast I want to spread for my children in the coming year.

In times like these poetry studies and artist studies and composer studies seem frivolous. Taking time to slowly read classic literature and ponder the advancements of Science seems small minded. When people don’t have jobs and are dying and are terribly afraid, things like time in nature could easily and justifiably slide to the back of the list. But then what would take the place at the front? No, these things are needed right now more than ever. In fact, it is in times like this that the strength and footing these things provide become apparent.

I am used to an easy life. I am used to the “riches” elements of a Charlotte Mason Education being beautiful extras that make our lovely days more lovely. But these things are soul food, were always meant to be soul food- for when the soul is truly hungry. This year, I think we will be hungry. This year we will need the feast more than ever. This year we will need sustenance.

And so I know, I know- I know I am not sticking my head in the sand. I know it but need to be reminded and maybe you do too. In placing my focus elsewhere, I am not in denial. Quite the contrary. I am planning for the future. Not just mine- not just this coming year, but like those monks of long ago. They preserved what was best in humanity so that they could hand that bundle back when the world was ready for it. I am preparing bundles of goodness. My bundles take the form of my children. In them I am preserving what could easily be lost in the crush of striving and envying and I will hand them back to the world when the time is right.

Those monks of long ago never saw the fruit of their labor. They died, perhaps, thinking that their efforts had been in vain. But they weren’t. There was a plan bigger than they, an end they couldn’t see. Fifteen hundred years is a long time to be in the Dark Ages- but the light was there, dormant and smoldering- ready to re-surface.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long in this cycle of history. But let us be like those monks, let us listen to that still small voice, allow ourselves to be used for a plan bigger than we can comprehend. Let us be diligent, let us spread the feast before our children with joy and peace and in so doing preserve the good and beautiful in a time when it seems to be slipping away.

Carry on mamas. Your work is important. It always has been- it is just more apparent now.

Blessings on you and your coming year. Blessings on the bundles you are packing.

S.Timothy 2020

Here is a verse that I have been coming back to again and again.

“Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.” Isaiah 26:20

(Don't misunderstand me- I am not advocating denial or un-involvment with society, but rather listening to the still small voice, guarding your heart and focusing on something bigger than the obvious.)

***This was first posted during the first summer of the COVID 19 lockdowns.***

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