Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Cloud of Witness Book - Part 1

A few years back, I wrote about the volume of devotional readings that Mason gave to her graduates titled The Cloud of Witness. It has been my heart’s desire to reprint this little gem. At the Living Education Retreat this past weekend, I gave the opening Conversazione in which I explained how this reprint came about. The problem was that the new books hadn’t arrived yet; they were still too fresh for the bindery to send!

Thankfully, they arrived the next day and were quickly snatched up. So the 2nd printing is under way and should be available by September 1st.  If you are interested in ordering, you can find out the latest news by watching the Cloud of Witness tab above or by liking the Facebook page (The Cloud of Witness).

This new copy is a reprint of the 1891 edition. The changes include replacing the black and white picture of Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World with a lovely color image. I will share more about this fascinating painting in a later post.  Another change is that a new forward has been added, written by me. It explains my journey and reasons for reprinting this book, as well as Mason’s association with it. Finally, there is the cover.

Do you have any idea how fun it is for a book lover to actually design a book cover?! I wanted it to be stunningly beautiful.  It was enlightening to work with Cynthia Oswald. I chose the graphics for the spine based on some of my vintage books.  And I love how she imitated the variety of fonts and sizes found on the original title page for the cover.  It definitely gives it an antique feel in my mind. The eggplant color of the cover is a favorite of mine and reminds me of royalty, richness, reverence. And the sweet yellow bookmarks are reminiscent of the bookmarks in the original editions.

I need to hold books in my hands. This is even more true with books that I cherish. Giving someone you love an e-book for a special occasion doesn’t have quite the same effect as giving them an heirloom hardcover. The finished book has exceeded my expectations and I will be giving it as a gift for years to come. I hope you feel the same.

Already it has been a peaceful joy to share quotes and encouragement with those from the LER who are reading along and meditating on the same thoughts and verses. Charlotte Mason knew exactly how it would bind her students together in meditative thought.

This diminutive  devotional, all 500+ pages, follows the Christian year, beginning with Advent.  Each week begins with a theme and prayer. Then each day starts with a verse followed by poems, quotes, and other scriptures related to that theme. The passages chosen are from such authors as George MacDonald, Matthew Arnold, Plato, Socrates, Keble, and Wesley.  Poets such as Wordsworth, Milton, Browning, and Tennyson are included.

one of my old copies

another old copy

 I am not Anglican, so I wasn’t certain how useful I would find the book when I received my first copy from England.  The compiler, Edith Gell, was a member of the Church of England and had this to say about that:

This little book has owed some of the noblest testimonies to Christian thought to writers of other Communions than my own. I should be glad if it could repay the debt by being found useful in its turn beyond the limits of the Church of England. Even to such as do not share our own lifelong associations with the progress of the Church’s year, a Golden Treasury of great thoughts and aspirations culled from ancient and modern, from religious and secular writers, may be helpful. (from the Preface)

Finally, thank you to Erin Daly at Riverbend Press.  Her tireless sacrifice to make my vision a reality and educate me on the art of book making has amazed and humbled me.

There is much more to share about The Cloud of Witness, but I will stop here for now.  Thank you for your enthusiastic response to this project. I hope to do a few others in the future!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Continually Seeking - Notes from the 2015 Living Education Retreat

Another LER has come and gone. This year was at a special location (Villa Maria Retreat Center) because it was our 10th year of meeting together.  Storms and humidity made for some uncomfortable weather, but there was plenty of sunshine, too. The people, the discussions, the relationships, the new knowledge - these things are what made my heart sing.

I delivered the opening Conversazione and reminded everyone that we were at the warbler capital of Minnesota.  I read this poem by Wendell Barry:

The yellow-throated warbler, the highest remotest voice
of this place, sings in the tops of the tallest sycamores,
but one day he came twice to the railing of my porch
where I sat at work above the river. He was too close
to see with binoculars. Only the naked eye could take him in,
a bird more beautiful than every picture of himself,
more beautiful than himself killed and preserved
by the most skilled taxidermist, more beautiful
than any human mind, so small and inexact,
could hope ever to remember. My mind became
beautiful by the sight of him. He had the beauty only
of himself alive in the only moment of his life.
He had upon him like a light the whole
beauty of the living world that never dies.

The LER team
I also introduced this special project.   The first printing sold out quickly, so I will let you know on the blog when the 2nd printing is available.  There will be a more detailed explanation in my next blog post.  
The Cloud of Witness
The good  Dr. and the magnanimous Mr. Wright

Here is Amber's rendering of the verse I shared - 

Continually seeking,


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rest, A Good Servant (Before and After Pics)


While I was out on a walk early in the morning a few days before Mother's Day, I spotted this wooden, black, decrepit couch frame thingie  tossed by the side of the road. I have always wanted a place to lie down on my porch, but the wicker settees that I had were much too short.  This monstrosity was 6 feet +.  Maybe my husband and son could work on it and it could be my Mother's Day present!  It's okay to suggest your present - right?!


It was finally finished this past week.  What do you think?  Want to stop by for a rest?  (I'm thankful my husband is so amazing with wood.)


Rest, a Good Servant.––In a general way, his fellow-servant and brother, Rest, steps in with, 'It is my turn now,' and the tired person is glad to sit down and be quiet for a little, or lie on his face with a book...Thus the muscles take such turns of work and rest as help them to grow and become strong."
-Charlotte Mason, Vol. 4, p. 119

This week is the Living Education Retreat - a much needed time of rest for all of us. Looking forward to being with so many interesting people and enjoying God's creation.  Here's where I'll be.  It looks like a castle but it's really an old Ursuline Girls' School.   Now it's a retreat center in the middle of Frontenac State Park. Please pray for safe travel, good weather, and nourishing sessions. I will share pictures after it is over.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

A World Pregnant with Ideas

"Life is as a book whose best pages are as yet uncut, and a growing interest holds us, filling the mind as a flood tide the sinuous shore line." - William Quayle

Oh, dear.  Posting will not be occurring regularly this summer!  If I'm not traveling, I'm busy being at home and outside.  You should stop by, sit a spell,  and see all the flowers in full bloom. I would not be exaggerating to say that Charlotte Mason and her way of living and learning has taught me to see in a whole different way, on a whole different level. I love what William Quayle says about this.

On Seeing
I would reverently add to the list of the beatitudes this, "Blessed are those who help us to see." From my heart I bless such men and women.  All the good must pray to God, "Help us to see." The pity of this world is not its limitations, but ours. Into the earth as into a king's golden goblet, God has poured all things which minister to an immortal and growing life. He has made a world pregnant with ideas. Vistas open as through a sunrise world to wide meadow lands beyond, where are sunshine and flowers and birds swaying in the tall grasses and singing as they sway and flute notes of singing waters and odors of damp sod and blooming flowers, and a meadow lark's dulcet note and swaying shadows of the woods when rocked by south winds and billowy motion of the grass like some emerald sea with tide setting to shore...Life is as a book whose best pages are as yet uncut, and a growing interest holds us, filling the mind as a flood tide the sinuous shore line.
-from In God's Out-of-Doors

And here are CM's words about this very thing.

Eyes and No-Eyes

Do you know how Eyes and No-Eyes went out for a walk? No-Eyes found it dull, and said there was nothing to see; but Eyes saw a hundred interesting things, and brought home his handkerchief full of treasures. The people I know are all either 'Eyes' or 'No-Eyes.' Do you wish to know which class you fall into? Let me ask you two or three questions. If you can answer them we shall call you, Eyes. If you cannot, why, learn to answer these and a thousand questions like them. Describe, from memory, one picture in your mother's drawing-room without leaving out a detail. Name a tree (not shrub) which has green leaf-buds? Do you know any birds with white feathers in their tails? If you do not know things such as these, set to work. The world is a great treasure-house full of things to be seen, and each new thing one sees is a new delight. 
-from Ourselves, Book I, p. 29

"Each new thing one sees is a new delight." - What new things have you seen recently? 

Here's what I saw today, tucked in the middle of our Pee-Wee Hydrangea tree!

4 perfect chipping sparrow eggs
In other news...

I am thrilled to share with you Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason, Volume 2.  So there is my essay on p. 57 - "Citizenship in the Curriculum: Mason, Magnanimity, and the Moral Life." Riverbend Press has done a stunning job.  They were even able to put in a color reprint of the picture study I refer to in the essay.
Finally, I have been working hard on a new project which I hope to present at the Living Education Retreat in a few weeks.  It is something that has been a desire of my heart for quite some time.I will share about it after the LER. (Speaking of the LER, I truly would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.)

With affection and regard,