Towards a Philosophy of Remembering

I wrote here about the value of remembering and my own failure to have as much written on my heart as I think I should. My friend Cindy is a big proponent of Remembering. In her “Morning Time for Moms” summer class we are memorizing a poem and a Psalm. She delights in Stratford Caldecott’s calling the elementary stage of learning “Remembering”. She often shares how lines from memorized poems have come to her or her own children in times of need for encouragement.

One of the books that we are reading together in this summer class is A White Bird Flying, which is the continuing story of Nebraska pioneers begun in Bess Streeter Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand. I shared some thoughts about Lantern in my previous post. That post ended with a quote showing an aged mother’s delight when reading of her banker son’s influence in bringing Shakespeare plays to Omaha:

For a few moments Abbie saw, in retrospect, a freckle-faced boy in a sod-house, hunching over a thick volume of plays and saying, “Aw, what’s the sense in this?” “Dear, dear,” she said to herself, “‘There is a divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.’ ”

In A White Bird Flying, we see Abbie’s attorney son John leaving the office after a weary day of work.

And so, as John Deal closed the office door, the words of the old poem came to him:

‘And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.’

He wished it were possible that they would do so. But he could not shake them off. They rode home on this shoulder, like so many little red devils. He had always been that way. He guessed he took life too seriously. Other men seemed to be able to leave their business cares behind them like lizards’ skins.

Although John feels he isn’t able to shake off the day’s cares, lines from poetry (that perhaps his mother had read to him years ago) come to his mind of how he ought to be and how he wished he could be. They give him a reality check of his own heart and mind. He goes on to compare himself to other businessmen, including the banker brother mentioned above, who are able to leave the burdens behind. He knows it’s possible. The poem reminds him of this and causes him to reflect.

I purposely mentioned the professions of these two brothers — banker and attorney — to show how meaningful more artistic things (Shakespeare and poetry) can be in the lives of those that do not choose art as a profession. What value does reading Shakespeare  and poetry as a child have for the adult business person? Much. What value does it have to have missed that in your youth, but to find yourself reading Shakespeare and poetry as an adult? Much.

Hymn Singing with the Family on Dad’s 80th birthday

This morning I had a passing thought about how weak I am. And then I heard those words I am weak, but thou art strong. And I am grateful for the years of hymn singing with my family and church friends. Often when I’m struggling with ugliness inside, I hear Purer in heart, O God, help me to be. And when I’m feeling beat down by the world and the ugliness around me, I hear My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.  

It is a whole other discussion to speak about Remembering in a Charlotte Mason education. Just know that it doesn’t involve boring lists and facts; rather, it is worthy thoughts beautifully written. You remember because you keep coming back to it. You remember because the worthiness and rhythms of the well-written lines naturally are implanted in your heart and mind.

It might go without saying, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyhow — If a person is going to have strengthening thoughts to access in his time of need, they’re not just going to be there by chance. I suppose every human has words written on their heart, but just what are those words? You choose. It’s never too late. And that storehouse of the mind and heart is never done being filled.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~  Paul, an apostle of Christ


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