What do grown-up CMers do? I don't mean career-wise, but life-choices-wise. And I don't mean just those who had a CM education, but those who began as parents. Or grandparents. Or who don't have children at all...like Charlotte Mason.
How does living by CM principles make a difference in parts of life that have little to do with teaching and parenting?
What does it all have to do with Mr, Fixit and I waking up alone in the apartment this morning (because Lydia had a studying sleepover with a friend), listening to the radio host talking about Canada's immigration policy, feeding the always-frantic guinea pig, swallowing vitamins, running the washer, making instant coffee, pulling a box of old car photos out of the storage room (Mr. Fixit is scanning them into the computer), noticing that the discount store has a rock-bottom sale on cream cheese (you can freeze it, right?), catching up on the AmblesideOnline forum, making a mental note to dust inside the glass-front cabinet (did we somehow bring that particular dust with us?), taking recycling to the row of bins at the back of the building?
Or with what we do with the rest of our days?
Right after we moved here, I walked downtown to the library and updated my card (I think I first got a computerized card around the time the Apprentice was a baby and we were borrowing picture books from the bookmobile). One of the books I borrowed was about slow cooking for two. The other was The Dean's Watch, by Elizabeth Goudge.
I wasn't sure what the title meant, but it turned out to be about a pocket watch belonging to the Dean, who is not a college VIP but the pastor of an unnamed English cathedral, ca. 1870. This particular Dean has a bad temper and abuses his nice watch, which both irritates and pleases the local watchmaker. He enjoys working on it, but he wishes the Dean would show a little more care. He also wants nothing to do with churches and clergymen, other than fixing their watches and winding their antique clocks.
The watchmaker and the Dean are saved, so to speak, by their mutual friendship with an elderly, disabled woman who could...in some ways...be Charlotte Mason. Her own story is that she grew up unappreciated and neglected by her family, a sort of Cinderella daughter whose prince never materialized. In a series of Way of the Will resolutions, she decided to make her life happy in spite of everything. By the time of the watch story, she is one of the most loved people in town, in spite of not being able to leave her house. (A nice contrast to Miss Havisham, and more theological than Pollyanna.) Her influence not only helps the Dean to stop throwing his watch around, but starts the wheels moving to repair other unhappy lives. People start noticing that the others around them are also human beings, individuals with unique needs, talents, and fears. Even the mean fish seller has a secret wish (he wants a caravan so he can run the Victorian equivalent of a food truck). And he himself just happens to have an old brazier under the fish garbage out back, which is what the Dean needs to help the poor old cathedral doorkeeper keep warm on the job. Strangely enough, the Dean never noticed that until recently. Must be something in the old lady's tea.
That's Charlotte Mason for grownups. It's not all about whether we keep going to art shows, or know the names of the trees around us (Mr. Fixit has suggested we check out a local trail soon). It's not about whether we feel guilty doing a crossword (remembering that Charlotte called such things futilities), or mentally virtuous watching a history documentary. It seems to be more about how we view even our small, everyday meetings and talkings. It's a way of seeing people and caring about them; a habit of seeing something good on every walk, even if it's just birds chattering on the roof of the discount store; and trying to say something cheerful, even if it's just "The tea's 'ot." Our determination is not only to make our world happier, but to enlist those around us as agents (as Dallas Willard called it, a divine conspiracy).
Linked from the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival at The Common Room.