Charlotte Mason has become a sweet presence in my life, much like a spiritual mother. Her wisdom has nourished me and has influenced how I’ve raised my children and taught my students.
Her desire to follow God and learn from Him is so evident in her writings, both in the six volume set that our generation knows as “The Original Home Schooling Series” and in the six volume set of her meditations on scripture, “The Savior of the World.” In volume 5 of her meditations, “The Savior of the World, The Great Controversy” on pages 193 – 196, she quotes John Ruskin as he discusses the fresco he calls the “Vaulted Book” that she saw in Florence, Italy.
“The descent of the Holy Ghost is on the left hand (of the roof) as you enter. The Madonna and Disciples are gathered in an upper chamber.” He goes on to describe the fresco in detail. She concludes with these words, “ The Florentines of the Middle Ages believed, not only that the seven Liberal Arts were fully under the direct outpouring of the Holy Ghost, but that every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit, with no consideration as to whether the person so inspired named himself by the name of God, or recognized whence his inspiration came.”
Two of my daughters, Hannah and Ruthie, and I traveled to Ambleside to help with the digitization project of Mason’s writings a few summers ago. During the visit, John Thorley very kindly gave us a tour of the Armitt and of Charlotte Mason College. He allowed me to hold Miss Mason’s Book of Common Prayer in my hands and to see for myself the only mark she made in it. “This I know” from the fifty-sixth Psalm is underlined.
The Fifty-Sixth Psalm
Miserere mei, Deus.
BE merciful unto me, O God, for man goeth about to devour me; he is daily fighting, and troubling me. Mine enemies are daily at hand to swallow me up; for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most Highest. Nevertheless, though I am sometime afraid, yet put I my trust in thee. I will praise God, because of his word: I have put my trust in God, and will not fear what flesh can do unto me. They daily mistake my words; all that they imagine is to do me evil. They hold all together, and keep themselves close, and mark my steps, when they lay wait for my soul. Shall they escape for their wickedness? Thou, O God, in thy displeasure shalt cast them down. Thou tellest my wanderings; put my tears into thy bottle: are not these things noted in thy book? Whensoever I call upon thee, then shall mine enemies be put to flight: this I know; for God is on my side. In God’s word will I rejoice; in the LORD’S word will I comfort me. Yea, in God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Unto thee, O God, will I pay my vows; unto thee will I give thanks. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
Her beautiful book is worn and shows that it was well used. It inspires me to spend time in the word and in prayer and to let the Saviour of the World, Himself, dwell richly in me.
A Grateful Moment
I see Mason’s teachings as seeds being planted in generation after generation of learners. I am grateful to be a part of this great legacy.
Ruthie traveled to Africa last month as a nursing student with Auburn University. She passed the love and wisdom of seeing each child as a person, the foundational truth that we have learned from Mason, on to the beautiful orphans in a Malawi village. A slideshow from her trip can be found here:
Ruthie Schaefer in Malawi, Africa
© Gladys Schaefer 2012
Gladys is currently the originator and facilitator of “The Gathering,” a weekly Charlotte Mason high school cooperative. Please see www.gladysschaefer.com for more information.