I know many of us have favorite Parents’ Review articles or chapters in Mason’s volumes. But do you have a favorite meditation by Miss Mason? I do. It’s called “Simplicity” and can be found in the 1921 Parents’ Review, The Story of Charlotte Mason by Cholmondeley, and Scale How Meditations by Bernier. I read it and have reread it countless times because I just love how the depth of thought on Miss Mason’s part will slowly seep into my own thoughts.
Charlotte Mason says that “the simple person can do anything with a little child; the unsimple loses the key and cannot force entrance into a child’s heart.” Did you hear that?
But how to be simple? Surely this is more than cleaning out the clutter around the house, although this might help! Looking at simplicity as an inward reality that affects our outward lifestyle will help us understand this better. And the meditation by Mason tells us that simplicity is the same thing as the single eye. Do we have this single eye? She tells us how:
“The answer is to be found, not in anxious enquiries into our motives and feelings, but in out-shining of the light in simple, humble, pleasant doing of that duty which comes next. By turning the light upon ourselves we produce dark lanterns. The most profound sense of our own unworthiness, abject humiliation, these are but forms of the self-consciousness which is a turning of the light upon ourselves, and so presenting a dark lantern to the world. We may know when the light shines out, because then we see other people. Before, men are to us ‘as trees walking’. It is not only our brother that the search-light is cast, for the pure in heart; the single of eye shall see God.”
So, because simplicity is the single eye and we wish to be simple in order to work with children, what are some of the things we can do to work on this? I came up with this list after reading Mason’s words and also from Richard Foster’s Freedom of Simplicity.
- Turn your attention to others and other things. Stop concentrating on yourself. Have an outward attitude.
- Focus your field of vision. Seek first the kingdom of God.
- Obey. Obey the Lord – not at some future time when we have this reformation of simplicity all planned out, but today. Now.
- Get up and keep going when you stumble and fall. This isn’t about whether you failed or succeeded yesterday or this morning, but are you obedient now?
- Be loyal. Mason says, “Bear in mind that we each carry that which is as priceless to a Christian as is her honor to a woman. Let us treasure our loyalty as our life, remembering it is the one jewel which a subject has to offer to this King. The subject who is not loyal is as a subject, nothing: and this is never so true as when the subject is a Christian and the King is Christ.”
- Stop all vain talk. Not only gossip but also insincere and dishonest praise which you may be more likely to participate in. Foster says, “A compliment affirms what is already there or coming into being. Flattery degrades us by saying something is that isn’t.”
- Keep a spiritual journal – a book of remembrances – a personal Ebenezer. This will help you remember what He has done, how far you’ve come, help with insight, and more. I really encourage you to begin this type of journaling. I don’t mean a navel-gazing exercise, but an exercise that you can look back at and see God’s hand in your life, see how unsimple or anxious your thoughts and prayers may have been , or spot your insincerity on such and such a topic and note , not with pride, but with true joy and thanksgiving to see where He has brought you.
- Remember and review that humility is one with simplicity. (Mason, Vol. 4, p. 129)
If we keep our thoughts on our “adorable Chief” and focus on Him, we will have that single eye which in turn allows us to be simple in the best sense of the word. And when the going gets tough, and it will, we can rest in the fact that it isn’t our power but it’s Christ’s power working mightily in us (Col. 1:29). I know that I want to be simple and keep the keys to my children’s hearts.
If you want to hear my entire talk on Simplicity, please hop on over to my blog and listen to the audio. I’ve included a picture study, a Saviour of the World immersion, a bonus audio, and more goodness in that post.
Teaching from Peace,
© 2017 Nancy Kelly