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Joy

Christmas JoyJoy. We sing about it. We desire it. But often we look for it in the wrong places.

Too often we hope that this season of parties and family gatherings and gifts and special concerts and candlelight services will somehow generate joy within our tired hearts. But we find that parties don’t quite meet our expectations, and family gatherings sometimes turn ugly. Shopping for gifts stresses our pocketbooks (and patience), and candlelight services require extra rehearsals.

So where is the joy in all this? What is the secret?

According to Charlotte Mason, the secret is appreciation. “Life has no greater joy-giver than Appreciation” (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 148). Joy grows as we look for and treasure in our hearts any good that we see in others—any beauty that is displayed in word, action, or scene. And not just the obvious being-nice-to-me words or actions. It is as we look for traits of good character demonstrated in anyone and toward anyone, even if just a peek of that trait, that we grow toward the habit of appreciation and that elusive ingathering of joy.

“Appreciation is a delightful inmate of the House of Heart, and is continually bringing an ingathering of joy. It is so good and pleasant to notice a trait of unselfishness here, of delicacy there, of honour elsewhere; to observe and treasure the record of the beauty of perfectness in any man’s work, whether the work be a great poem or the sweeping of a room” (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 148).

I love that contrast. We readily see beauty in a great poem, but do we as readily see it in a well-swept room? If not, we are missing that opportunity to increase our joy. It is in the multitude of small things that we can grow in appreciating and adding to our joy.

So grab every opportunity. Today, rather than fixing your eyes on what is discouraging and disappointing, “observe and treasure” any beauty around you in word, action, or scene. And see if it doesn’t increase your joy.

And most of all, look long and lovingly on our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”

Merry Christmas from the SCM Team!

4 Responses to “Joy”

  1. Nanci December 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    It’s been one of those days….things breaking, children fighting, house in chaos, etc. I just sat down at the computer about to cry, then I see your blog post in my inbox.
    Just what I needed to hear. Thank you.
    Going to find something to appreciate right now, even if it’s that one square inch of floor that DOESN’T have dirt on it, LOL!

  2. fiveacorns December 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Timely & excellent advice. Thank you!

  3. Florence December 23, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    what a great reflection! I’m pondering CM’s reference to the “House of Heart”. Do you know if she used that term in other disussions? I would like to reflect more on that. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

    • Sonya Shafer December 23, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      That term was a main illustration Charlotte used in Volume 4, Ourselves. In that book she developed a whole word picture for the various aspects of a person: “Every human being, child or man, is a Kingdom of Mansoul” and in that kingdom there are many Officers of State, each with a distinct work to do. Then she describes the various Ministers who are sitting in the Houses, managing the affairs there. “These Houses are, the House of Body, the House of Mind, the House of Heart, and the House of Soul” (Book 1, p. 10). You can read all about the House of Heart in Vol. 4, Book 1, beginning on page 81.

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