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Saturday, June 27, 2015

A World Pregnant with Ideas

"Life is as a book whose best pages are as yet uncut, and a growing interest holds us, filling the mind as a flood tide the sinuous shore line." - William Quayle


Oh, dear.  Posting will not be occurring regularly this summer!  If I'm not traveling, I'm busy being at home and outside.  You should stop by, sit a spell,  and see all the flowers in full bloom. I would not be exaggerating to say that Charlotte Mason and her way of living and learning has taught me to see in a whole different way, on a whole different level. I love what William Quayle says about this.
 

On Seeing
I would reverently add to the list of the beatitudes this, "Blessed are those who help us to see." From my heart I bless such men and women.  All the good must pray to God, "Help us to see." The pity of this world is not its limitations, but ours. Into the earth as into a king's golden goblet, God has poured all things which minister to an immortal and growing life. He has made a world pregnant with ideas. Vistas open as through a sunrise world to wide meadow lands beyond, where are sunshine and flowers and birds swaying in the tall grasses and singing as they sway and flute notes of singing waters and odors of damp sod and blooming flowers, and a meadow lark's dulcet note and swaying shadows of the woods when rocked by south winds and billowy motion of the grass like some emerald sea with tide setting to shore...Life is as a book whose best pages are as yet uncut, and a growing interest holds us, filling the mind as a flood tide the sinuous shore line.
-from In God's Out-of-Doors

And here are CM's words about this very thing.

Eyes and No-Eyes

Do you know how Eyes and No-Eyes went out for a walk? No-Eyes found it dull, and said there was nothing to see; but Eyes saw a hundred interesting things, and brought home his handkerchief full of treasures. The people I know are all either 'Eyes' or 'No-Eyes.' Do you wish to know which class you fall into? Let me ask you two or three questions. If you can answer them we shall call you, Eyes. If you cannot, why, learn to answer these and a thousand questions like them. Describe, from memory, one picture in your mother's drawing-room without leaving out a detail. Name a tree (not shrub) which has green leaf-buds? Do you know any birds with white feathers in their tails? If you do not know things such as these, set to work. The world is a great treasure-house full of things to be seen, and each new thing one sees is a new delight. 
-from Ourselves, Book I, p. 29

"Each new thing one sees is a new delight." - What new things have you seen recently? 

Here's what I saw today, tucked in the middle of our Pee-Wee Hydrangea tree!

4 perfect chipping sparrow eggs
In other news...

I am thrilled to share with you Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason, Volume 2.  So there is my essay on p. 57 - "Citizenship in the Curriculum: Mason, Magnanimity, and the Moral Life." Riverbend Press has done a stunning job.  They were even able to put in a color reprint of the picture study I refer to in the essay.
Finally, I have been working hard on a new project which I hope to present at the Living Education Retreat in a few weeks.  It is something that has been a desire of my heart for quite some time.I will share about it after the LER. (Speaking of the LER, I truly would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.)

With affection and regard,
Nancy




 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seek the Grains of Gold, Not the Dross

 

"Our search must be for the grains of gold."
 - Charlotte Mason, Ourselves - Our Souls and Bodies, Bk. 2 p. 187

Eastern Screech owlet in our yard this week!

These words have been impressed upon me over the past few months.  There is so much there.  No lecture here, just sharing  with you  and hoping that you can ponder what it means, too. Here is more context for you:

"We must not be bent upon finding what we take for dross, whether in the Bible, in the ordering of the world, or in that of our own lives.  Our search must be for the grains of gold, and, as we amass these, we shall live and walk in the continual intimacy of the the divine Love, the constant worship of the divine Beauty, in the liberty of those whom the Truth makes free."

Our daisy corner (HT - Jen G.)
Dross is the waste or scum skimmed off of metal during the purifying process. Worthless, commonplace, or trivial are also packed in  that definition.  This search is a choice - a choice about what you are going to focus on, think about, dwell upon. 

I don't know how many times I've read Volume 4 of Mason's but I am constantly uncovering new thoughts and fresh ideas.  I will be sharing many of these at the upcoming CMI conference in a 2 hour session entitled, "A Third Position:  Ourselves and Moral Development".  Then, that evening I will facilitate a discussion on the first half of this volume - Book One - Self Knowledge.  Consider joining me as I would LOVE to hear what grains of gold you have found.

Warmly,

Nancy
petals from the ornamental crabapple - confetti!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

State of Wonder: 2015 Homewoods Gathering

She (wisdom) is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. Proverbs 3:18

Last weekend was full of wonder.  I was speaking at the 2015 Homewoods Gathering, a retreat focused on learning and living out the principles of Charlotte Mason.  It was held at the beautiful home of Alex and Cindy Vasquez in Little Flock, Arkansas.  When I arrived, I was treated to a walk around Bentonville, a performance in front of the historic courthouse by the Bentonville High School Orchestra, and a delicious meal at Table Mesa with organizers Cindy and Emily.

honeysuckle!

Early the next morning I took off into the unknown on my morning walk/run.  I love this part of exploring new places.  Landscapes before 8 a.m. reveal all sorts of delights. Around the bend, I was stopped in my tracks by an intoxicating fragrance in the air.  It was wild honeysuckle!  Later, Makayla demonstrated how to suck the single drop of honey out of the flower.  I felt like she was sharing a childhood secret.

An Introduction to Nature  - Birds, Flowers, Trees by John Kieran (The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas.)

Further on, I heard the call of my beloved cardinal.  When I looked up, it was not a cardinal but a mockingbird who then sang about 5 other distinctly different songs.  Then, as I turned to go back, I stood at the edge of a pasture in awe as a cow gave birth to a calf, ate the afterbirth, cleaned up the calf and nudged it until it stood up and ate for the first time.  Breathtaking.  A truck crept up behind me and startled me out of my reverie.  It was the owner who had seen this a hundred times but clearly was awed once again, judging from the theological discussion that followed.

And all this before 8 a.m.!

When I arrived at the actual Gathering, Punky presented me with this little gift -

Talk about knowing you are exactly in the right place!  Here was a group of humble, gracious ladies presenting folk songs, local lore, poetry, good company, deep discussions, nature study, and much more.  It is amazing what happens when such a diverse group joins together to form a gathering for others.  Cindy, Emily, Punky, Kari, Kelley, Karen and so many others helped make this a nourishing and refreshing weekend for everyone.  Thank you.

Funny how every person exceeds our power of measurement.

"We attempt to define a person, the most common-place person we know, but he will not submit to bounds; some unexpected beauty of nature breaks out; we find he is not what we thought, and begin to suspect that every person exceeds our power of measurement." - from The Story of Charlotte Mason

Wondering still,

Nancy





Sunday, May 10, 2015

Made Happy By Simple Things

Dicentra spectabilis

A sure sign of spring around here is when the airy bushes of bleeding hearts appear.  I have been given a few of these old-fashioned plants for Mother's Day over the years.  I plant them next to our door to be sure and spot the dangling beauties as soon as they arrive. This year, my daughter entered them in her Nature Notebook as a gift to me because she knows I love them. I think she does, too.

Did you know that if you gently fold back the skirt of one of the flowers, Princess Di Centra appears?  And there is a story to go along with her, of course.  I learned about it from Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy. It goes like this:

Once there was a beautiful princess who wandered away from her walled garden and became lost in the darkness of an ancient forest. The princess fell prey to an evil crone angered to have her privacy disturbed.  In an instant, Di was reduced to a fraction of her normal size and entrapped in the satiny pink folds of an oddly-shaped flower.

The old crone cackled happy and told Di that she was to remain forever imprisoned unless discovered and released by an innocent youngling.

Little did the crone know how tempting the Princess would be to any passing child! Only three days passed before a party of riders stopped for water in the forest. Drinking from a stream on bended knee, a boy glanced up, spied the dancing wand tipped by a pink and white heart, and plucked it (as innocent children will do). Short, plump finders folded back Di's voluminous pink skirt, and the lovely princess was saved!
There are other things to discover about bleeding hearts and other flowers in this book.



Mary Oliver has written this wonderful poem about these long-lasting beauties.

The Bleeding-heart by Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2



I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived
for sixty years if not more, and has never
missed a spring without rising and spreading
itself into a glossy bush, with many small red
hearts dangling. Don't you think that deserves
a little thought? The woman who planted it
has been gone for a long time, and everyone
who saw it in that time has also died or moved
away and so, like so many stories, this one can't
get finished properly. Most things that are
important, have you noticed, lack a certain
neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to
remember my grandmother's pleasure when
the dissolve of winter was over and the green
knobs appeared and began to rise, and to cre-
ate their many hearts. One would say she was
a simple woman, made happy by simple
things. I think this was true. And more than
once, in my long life, I have wished to be her.






Happy Mother's Day!

-Nancy