Christmas Thoughts from Charlotte Mason

(An excerpt from Honest, Simple Souls)

Christmas Eve: That Which We Cannot Understand

The final three chapters are titled Thanksgiving, Praise, and Faith in God. They carry one overall message: that we may consider ourselves to be smallandunimportantselves, without great talents or special knowledge; but as human beings, Personsouls, we share both the opportunity and the duty to know, love, and serve our heavenly Father.

There are poets to whom it is given to utter some vital word, painters who present us with “The Light of the World,” or, like the Russian painter, Ivan Kramskoi, with a vision of Christ seated in the wilderness. Such as these praise God, we know, but they are few and far between.

So, too, do honest, simple souls who bear affliction willingly, or who live their appointed lives with the sense that they are appointed. All of these ways of giving praise we recognise and bow before; but the duty would seem to pass us by as incompetent persons. We are not angels, we carry no harps. But the duty of praise is not for occasional or rare seasons; it waits at our doors every day. (pp. 194-195)

Where we err is in supposing that mystery is confined to our religion, that everything else is obvious and open to our understanding. Whereas the great things of life, birth, death, hope, love, patriotism, why a leaf is green, and why a bird is clothed in feathers—all such things as these are mysteries; and it is only as we can receive that which we cannot understand, and can discern the truth of that which we cannot prove, and can distinguish between a luminous mystery and a bewildering superstition, that we are able to live the full life for which we were made. (pp. 200-201)

In the spirit of the season

This assurance is not the cool conclusion of a successful argument. It is rather the seizing at last of Something which we have ever felt near us and enticing us: the unspeakably simple because completely inclusive solution of all the puzzles of life.

(Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism)

Do whatever creates beauty, wisdom, and love in your life and the lives of others today. Seize the assurance of the Something which we know to be near us; the Person who came as the Unspeakably Simple, to offer us God’s “completely inclusive solution.”

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