Why I love The Cloud of Witness

Some of you will already be familiar with the reprint of The Cloud of Witness that was published by Nancy Kelly last summer. (If you don’t own a copy, it is now available on Amazon, as well as Riverbend Press.)

This is an eclectic little book of daily readings of scripture and poetry (from the great minds) that Charlotte Mason chose as her graduation gift for her students leaving her teacher training college. It was precious to them, because they would all be reading the same words together daily, even though they were separated by time and space. 

I love this book, not only because I read it throughout the year with a neat group of like-minded educators, but also because of the daily encouragement and thinking that it involves.

Since I don’t follow the liturgical year, I have gotten very lost in The Cloud. There is a helpful schedule here, to keep people like me on track.

So, take yesterday’s reading for example. Three different selections struck me.

  “Man is dear to Man! the poorest Poor

Long for some moments in a weary life,

Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out

Of some small blessings;-have been kind to such

As needed kindness.”

 

-Wordsworth

This reminded me of several people who have been dealers-out of small blessings to me. I’m grateful for them.

The next one is longer. More thinking.

“Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes

Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.

Why should I feel another man’s mistakes

More than his fickleness or poverty?

In love I should; but anger is not love,

Nor wisdom neither; -therefore gently move!

 

Be useful where thou livest, that they may 

Both want and wish thy pleasing presence still:

Kindness, good parts, great places, are the way

To compass this. Find out men’s Wants and Will,

And meet them there! – All worldly joys go less

To the one joy of doing kindnesses.”

 

-George Herbert, emphasis added

Okay. There’s a lot here. I read it maybe three or four times yesterday morning. The truth of these words is a little painful and stays with me throughout the day. It reminds me of Charlotte’s reminder in Ourselves (Volume 4):

“Poetry, too, supplies us with tools for the modelling of our lives, and the use of these we must get at for ourselves.

The line that strikes us as we read, that recurs, that we murmur over at odd moments-this is the line that influences our living…

 

…as we ‘inwardly digest,’ reverence comes to us unawares, gentleness, continuance, and of a part to play that should not be loud and discordant, but of a piece with the whole.

This is one of the ‘lessons never learned in schools’ which comes to each of us only as we discover it for ourselves.”

 

-Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Charlotte goes on to say that we each may have a favorite poet (or several), and that is a happy thing as we learn and digest:

“What we digest we assimilate, take into ourselves, so that it is part and parcel of us, and no longer separable.”

 

-Charlotte Mason

And lastly, this one struck me because I have been struggling a bit with our home’s atmosphere. A cheerful mother is not to be underestimated. I sort of let life get to me lately. Michael ever so gently brought it to my attention. (The man is brave.) And there has been a marked upswing of joy around here as I have worked hard to remember to smile and have fun with people. And doesn’t it just figure that these days and the effort made has been “twice blest”? (“It blesseth him that gives and him that takes!” – Shakespeare)

“Find thy reward in the thing

Which thou hast been blest to do,

Let the joy of others cause joy to spring

Up in thy bosom too!-

And if the love of a grateful heart

As a rich reward be given,

Lift thou the love of a grateful heart

To the God of Love in Heaven!”

 

-George MacDonald

6 Comments on “Why I love The Cloud of Witness

  1. Thank you for sharing these selections from The Cloud of Witness. They are great illustrations of how day after day, the poetic excerpts in this book strike the conscience, inspire the heart, and feed the soul.

  2. WOW, those selections are wonderful. I can’t believe how each one has touched my heart and stabbed it as well. The second selection of MacDonald’s and Mason’s really it home with “meeting” my husband and my daughter “where they are at”. I think I have finally been convicted to jump on board with this book. Thank you for taking the time to share your words as well.

    • Thank you, Bonnie! Sorry for not replying sooner, I was out of town. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it.

      ~Mary

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