Our Charlotte Mason Book Study has completed Volume 5. This was an accomplishment in itself, but was special for me because this Charlotte Mason Book Study has now read all six volumes. We began reading the summer of 2014 at a park. While the children played, we discussed. We read the entire volume that summer.
Since then, we slowed the pace, moved to an evening study at a public library, and now meet in conjunction with the Omaha Homeschool Library, a mouth-watering gem for Living book enthusiasts such as we are.
For many years I brought tea for us to sip while we talked. Lately, our arrangement wasn’t conducive to tea-but I may soon see if it can be worked in again.
Thinking back over the years of this Book Study, I see many faces. One face is constant from beginning to end. For her faithfulness I am thankful. It was such a blessing that at our last meeting we were again together. Her calm, steady smile has been there all along and I treasure her uncluttered approach to Charlotte Mason.
I see other faces. Some who came and went; many who came and went.
But a remnant was always to be found. Those who stayed gave me hope and blessing.
After my fourth baby was born, life was very hard. I was exhausted caring for a little one who had digestive, allergic reactions. At that time, there were only 1-2 women coming, at best. I remember being pregnant and dragging myself off the couch in quite a bit of pain, rounding up the kids, and heading to Book Study only to find that no one else came. This was highly discouraging. After the baby was born, paring life down to survival, I cut everything out but this group. Everything- church…. everything… to survive. And soon this group too was approaching the chopping block. Although I told myself that one mother coming was as important as a hundred coming, each month was harder and harder to live by that axiom. This didn’t seem to be a ministry that was productive and thriving and worth the effort.
After a few more months, I finally decided that I was finished leading a CM study, which would mean unless some woman unknown to me picked up the torch, a Charlotte Mason Book Study in Omaha would also be ending. At my final meeting, a new woman came, bringing her two bounding, little boys. She was full of enthusiasm for Charlotte Mason, a literal sponge soaking it up, quickly. I gritted my teeth in disbelief. This was not supposed to have happened. Why did she come? I was finished organizing this Book Study. These thoughts rattled through my head as I managed to keep the baby happy while I listened to her tell about her journey to find a Charlotte Mason Education.
And so, of course, there is only one thing to do: continue. Continue bringing little children, hauling the sickly baby, weary, but encouraged by her drive and thirst.
We grew in numbers over the next 2 years. And when it seemed that our group was at last over the hump, another challenge came to test my determination. It forced me to strengthen my purpose, but not before it rattled my resolve. Again the faithful. The continued attendance of two mothers, growing in their understanding, was heartening. Along with the encouragement of a friend from afar, I came to a place of peace to let the flood wash by and continue.
And so on it goes. Another eager mother to bless our little group. The faithful always return, and have returned, to my great joy. On we continue for the joy of a Living Education that is set before us.
I say we… the we is two sided. It is the ‘we’ that makes up our Book Study. We do keep meeting and studying and encouraging each other. But I really have a larger ‘we’ in mind. It is the greater community of bosom friends.
The ‘we’ I’m speaking to are those who have bumps and bruises. I write this not to those who are surrounded with an eager, growing jubilance of Charlotte Mason enthusiasts flocking and rallying around them. It is not written for those who know the successes of the multitude. Blessings on that path if it is the one you travel. This is for those who work through the wide, vast, flat, endless field. Looking and searching through the thick, clogged jungles. Hot, tired, and drained from the desert. Those who think they are unsuccessful as they gauge what others are doing for the Charlotte Mason cause. I’m writing to those who can not understand why. Why their situation is the one before them. Why can it never come as it does for others? I’m speaking to those who serve as if in a foreign land, a stranger to those around them. This word of blessing is for the Missionaries.
It is arduous. And when we are down and tired, we become discouraged. Discouragement, unless it is recognized and dealt with, is the beginning of the end. We must work through it overcome the obstacles.
First, we must challenge the standards we are measuring ourselves and our work against. Whose standards are they? What is the foundation for standards that define success; that determine the value of our deeds? Is something successful when it models what the world sees as success? Is there a different determiner of success, something else we can use to define the worthiness of what we do?
And further, as we struggle to plant, we must dig deep within ourselves for our own purpose. Is what we are doing for our own pleasure, for our own pride? Is it our need for sociability, self-worth, power or popularity turned on us; turned into a Dæmon? Is it because we will receive a benefit or a benefit for our own children? Who are we really serving? Do we plant because we have received true seed? What does one do with seed entrusted to him? Where does duty enter the picture; and loyalty, faithfulness, gratitude, generosity, and humility? Volume 4 gives us very good pictures of all these qualities. Are we applying them to our Book Studies and all the situations that surround them?
Define the standard you find worthy to meet. Determine your motives.
And then…plant. While you plant, ask God to change your heart and your motives. Sow the seed, continue to water. Growth will come, a harvest might even come. Though you may not see all of it, if you look carefully, you will see it, in yourself and in others. And if not now, give it time to sprout. It will.
The fruit that lasts, whether in you or in others, is the fruit that often must come of toil and tears. Blessings to you, Charlotte Mason Missionaries, as you continue in determined faithfulness and true generosity in service to others.