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.”
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.”
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!”