The promise of spring is in the air. Lately we’ve had a few days that were warm enough to invite us outside for a refreshing walk. Here in Georgia I’ve even spotted the first brave daffodils in various yards, turning their bright faces toward the sun.
Spring is an ideal time to get outside. Charlotte Mason made time for it every day in her personal schedule—regardless of how busy she was. She made sure her teachers-in-training developed an outdoor habit while they were studying at her school, and she scheduled one halfday every week for all of their students to spend in nature.
Why? What is so important about time outside that Charlotte was willing to put away the books and set down her work and encourage those around her to do the same?
“We become prepared by the quiet schooling of Nature to walk softly and do our duty towards man and towards God” (Vol. 4, Book 2, p. 98).
Charlotte firmly believed that the more we grow in our understanding of nature, the more we would see how awesome God’s creation is and our hearts would respond in worship.
“From the flower in the crannied wall to the glorious firmament on high, all the things of Nature proclaim without ceasing, ‘Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty’ ” (Vol. 4, Book 2, p. 100).
Reverence develops with time and personal experience. The more face-to-face time we have with God’s creation, the deeper our appreciation grows. We learn to glorify God and enjoy Him.
We also grow in our understanding of and respect for mankind. When you spend time watching a bee at work and carefully try to follow it to its hive and wonder what all is going on inside that hive, your experience gives you a deep appreciation for others like Maurice Maeterlinck and the work that resulted in his book, The Children’s Life of the Bee.
Living science books, like Arthur Ransome’s delightful Pond and Stream, take on new significance. You begin to comprehend the thought and time that went into Thornton Burgess’ classic The Burgess Bird Book for Children.
Time in nature lays a solid foundation for science studies and gives you a sense of respect for others who have invested time in scientific discoveries of their own. You develop a desire to learn more and an appreciation for those who can teach it to you from their own experiences.
Charlotte also valued time outside in nature for one more reason. And I urge you to consider that if she thought this reason important one hundred years ago, how much more important is it in today’s hectic world? She said:
“But Nature does more than this for us. She gives us certain dispositions of mind which we can get from no other source, and it is through these right dispositions that we get life into focus, as it were” (Vol. 4, Book 2, p. 98).
We all need a renewed perspective at times. There is something about spending time in nature that seems to reset us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It refreshes and helps us get life back into focus. Perhaps that is why Charlotte went outside every day.
The simple act of setting down your work, opening the front door, going outside and leaving it all behind you for a bit can teach lessons that no other school subject can:
- Reverence God.
- Respect others.
- Regain focus.
It’s all waiting for you in the quiet schooling of nature.