Friday, September 19, 2008

Mea Culpa: Masterly Inactivity

On the CM Series Yahoo Group we are reading through Vol 3 School Education of The Charlotte Mason Series. It is being led by the lovely and intelligent Karen.

Yesterday Tim and I were out of town, I woke up very early and spent some time reading my Bible. While still waiting for him to wake up I decided to read my weekly chapter in School Education. It turned out to be Masterly Inactivity. Reading this chapter turned into a convicting time for me. It was as if an angel had appeared, pointed and said, "You are the woman." In spite of having read this chapter 16 or 17 years ago for the first time, underlining, reading it several other times over the years, the chapter basically describes my biggest mistakes as a parent. I have always said the best parents make the worst mistakes and Charlotte is saying something similar in this chapter. That is not to say I am the best parent but I certainly qualify as most sincere. She is telling us in our enthusiasm to be good parents we should watch out for one serious pitfall. Well, I was watching out for it but I fell into it anyway. I hope you can avoid this same pitfall by listening to my warnings and reading the chapter. It is online.

Here is the heart of the matter:

We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavors become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, 'late and soon.' We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education

I didn't underline that passage the first time around. I probably thought it was mistaken. But this masterly inactivity is not a laissez fair attitude rather:

"It indicates the power to act, the desire to act, and the insight and self-restraint that prohibit action."

The truth is that the homeschooling mom, with such a weight of care, is most in danger of committing this error.

Last year at the Circe Conference, there was much, much talk about leisure and rest. I have been mulling over that quite a bit ever since the conference. I have had my ears tuned to what it means to rest and how that applies practically to my life. It has been rough going. I know there is a direct tie between leisure and learning, and I know Charlotte Mason recognized that and Christ gave it approval when he said that Mary had chosen the better thing but it has been slow going in my home this year. George Grant said yesterday at Parish Presbyterian church that the culmination of joy is rest.

There have been lots of things to disturb my equilibrium this year. To combat the confusion of events I have sought more and more control over the areas of my sovereignty. I have become frustrated and shrill. It is a blessed kindness from God that he planted the seed of rest in my mind last summer and now just when I need it most he is letting it begin to blossom. I look forward to the fruit.

For those of you still suspicious of Charlotte Mason, take a minute to read Masterly Inactivity. I think you will be amazed by her wisdom. Charlotte was a woman without husband or children and yet she was full of God-given wisdom that helped mothers. I know someone like that :)

If you are seeking rest, sounding shrill or pushing too hard take a minute to read the chapter. It is short and easy. I have almost underlined the entire chapter so I am not able to share it all here.

Let me end with a few more quotes:

"She may be the best mother in the world, but the thing that her children will get from her in these moods is a touch of her nervousness––most catching of complaints" OUCH

Finally she ends the chapter on a note of faith:

"When we recognize that God does not make over the bringing up of children absolutely even to their parents, but that He works Himself, in ways which it must be our care not to hinder, in the training of every child, then we shall learn passiveness, humble and wise."

The words of this chapter bring pain to my heart but I am hoping that God has sent them to also bring healing. It is my hope that they will save you pain in the future.

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