Christmas Wonder, Canticles, and Lupines

“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.” -Charlotte Mason

We found ourselves running into the library because our printer has given out. The library is a favorite place, a safe haven of sorts, but it’s especially so during Christmastime with their holiday decorations and 10 foot tree. In the short few minutes we were inside, heavy wet snow started falling and it was picturesque. I could have made the decision to hunker inside and enjoy the view from the warmth and comfort from the cozy library, but I knew my 6 year old would enjoy this better outdoors. What a grand decision we made to walk about our little town with the Christmas decorations and snow – it was quite comical, the snow was so large and fake looking, it felt like we were extras in a holiday movie. When we were cold, we slide back to the car (it was slippery!) and the first song that played on the radio was, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”. My son rejoiced in how the timing of the song matched the weather.

Here is a link to the most adorable $4 stickers I found this week, shared from a sweet young woman on Facebook. Click here to go to her Etsy shop.

I have a routine where I have time to myself to use my headphones, playing my favorite podcast by Sally Clarkson (which I usually do during mindless chores). Sally is just so sweet and wise, and hearing her soothing voice talk about God, family, tea, art, literature, and her little adventures just refreshes my soul a little. This past Tuesday, she mentioned canticles, which I hadn’t heard of before.

A canticle is a hymn taken from the Bible. Luke 1:46-55, when Mary sings, “my soul glorifies the Lord…”, is a canticle, as well as in Luke 2 when Simeon is singing as he held Jesus as a child. Sally’s grandchildren are also homeschooled, their dad is a vicar, and they memorized a canticle which they recited to their grandmother. It just brought so much joy to my heart to hear of children younger than my son reciting hymns about Jesus. Memorizing is something we had bravely started pursuing, an opportunity to place within our children’s heart an anchor. When my son is getting stressed over something, he starts to recite Philippians 4:13, and it’s easier to parent with a gentle tongue when I can pull out a verse from memory.

I think Western education has forgotten about this old tradition of memorization. My grandfather, born in 1939 in England, was brought up having to memorize poetry, hymns, and things of the sort at his all-boys private school. In the late 1800’s, a famous English educator by the name of Charlotte Mason, had created curriculum for her fellow educators to follow. She was a very wise, Godly woman who adored teaching, and she really paved the way in education in this time. There were a list of attainments that she felt a child of six was capable of and should know. Some of these things were:

  • to know 6 birds by song, color and shape
  • to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
  • to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
  • To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
  • to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm

Not everything on her list is culturally attainable now in the time and location we are in compared to 1890’s England, but they didn’t view children as incapable as they sometimes do now. Parents get a sideways glance from others when their children recite long Bible verses, poetry, and hymns, but laugh in joy of hearing a child recite the entire dialogue from a Bluey episode. I remember some of the songs I was taught in kindergarten, and still hum the songs my mother hummed to me, but I’ve never been able to hum a hymn or recite a bible verse until just recently. I love that we are living in a culture that is bringing that back, children reciting psalms and canticles, my heart overflowth. Here’s the canticle that Sally’s grandchildren recited for her:

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

There is a beautiful book that we checked out from the library last year, Miss Rumphius, based off of the true story of the Lupine Lady – a woman who wanted to do something beautiful for the world, so she spread lupine seeds everywhere she went. The lupine you see today in Maine are all thanks to her. Here’s where you can find the book gently used for $4 – click here to be taken to Thriftbooks.

The idea of homeschooling was scary and nerve-wrecking at first, but as time as passed I’ve gained a lot of confidence as I trust in my own skills and in God. One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is all of the things I’m learning myself! I wanted to share two interesting factoids that I found interesting while reading with my son.

  • If you take a closer glance at pine trees, you may be able to find pine tube moth pupa – little caterpillar moths that cocoon themselves into pine needles (thus creating a tube-like structure).
  • In the book, Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Menu, Pilgrims didn’t really eat a lot of fruit, they preferred to drink it (which my son assumed was juice). They also didn’t eat a whole lot of vegetables at the time – if they did, it would be cooked with lots of pepper, mace, clove, ginger, and cinnamon. They just adored color, spice, bread, pudding, and roasted meats for that was what was commonly made in England. Thank goodness for where we are in the world now, with many cultures mingling within meals we eat today.

Have a blessed week! Thank you for taking the time to read, friends.


Published by Samantha Sali

Image-bearer. Jesus-seeker. Wife. Mother. Writer. Artist.

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