Wednesday, June 15, 2016

From My Commonplace: Words Matter

" 'Good-b'ye, dear!  God bless you!'
The blessing was from a young child's lips, but it was the first that Oliver had ever heard invoked upon his head; and through the struggles and sufferings and troubles and changes, of his after life, he never one forgot it." (p.79)
"…the old lady, who had a shipwrecked grandson wandering barefoot in some distant part of the earth, took pity upon the poor orphan, and gave him what little she could afford – and more – with such kind and gentle words, and such tears of sympathy and compassion, that they sank deeper into Oliver's soul, than all the sufferings he had ever undergone." (p.82)
~Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
I recently read Dicken's Oliver Twist, mostly because I'm trying to keep one step ahead of Michelle before she starts Year 5.  I found myself very moved by it, though – even though I picked it up to pre-read rather than as something for *me*.  It is gut-wrenching in places, and not all of the characters meet the same happy outcome as our little friend Oliver.   Even though Oliver walks through many harrowing, horrifying situations in his young life, he meets along the way those who have compassion on him.  Those who in some way – whether through their words or actions – bless him.  I can't help but wonder if that is what makes all the difference in his life.
This thought hit close to home for me because it has been a repeated theme this year – an idea that has continually come up.  I think it started back in February at a church leadership retreat, in which the speaker challenged us with the words of  1 Corinthians 14:3: "On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation."   This work of prophecy – that is, speaking words of upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation – is for all of us.  Tearing down  is what comes naturally.  What if all of us were willing to ask the Lord to give us words of encouragement to speak to those around us?  What if as a parent, wife, and teacher I made it my goal to build others up – to bless others as I myself have been blessed?
I was reminded of it again at last month's AmblesideOnline conference – Lynn Bruce challenged us to remember that our children need to know that we are 'ever on their side'.  Our words, actions, and reactions towards our children need to communicate this.  We need to build them up, not tear them down.
And I am being reminded of it yet again as I read Charlotte Mason's second volume Parents and Children.  She emphasizes again and again the key responsibility of parents is to nourish our children on the ideas that will 'excite their appetencies' towards the good, true, and beautiful.  
Words matter.
Lord make me sensitive to your promptings, that I may bless, encourage, console, and build up those around me by the things that I do, the books that I offer,  and by the words that I speak.

My Bookbag This Week:
Devotional: Galatians with the Paul for Everyone Commentary (NT Wright)
The Daily Office Lectionary Readings and Prayers from The Trinity Mission
 Theological: On The Incarnation (St. Athanasius, with introduction by CS Lewis)
AO Book Discussion Group: I Promessi Sposi (Manzoni)
Personal Choice: Parents and Children (Charlotte Mason)
Poetry: Collected Poems 1909-1962 (TS Eliot)
With my Hubby: Emma (Austen)
Family Read-Aloud Literature: Little Britches (Moody)
*I am also reading Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 for a local CM book club, but these meetings are infrequent, and it is my third – or fourth? – pass through it and so I just read the brief section assigned as our meetings come up.   

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  1. I love these quotes you pulled out from Oliver Twist! I am a little apprehensive about reading Oliver Twist as I started it a few years ago and found it too dark to continue. I've 5 or 6 books by Dickens, but I really had a hard time with this one. That being said, I'm going to tackle it again with my soon-to-be y5 son!

    And such a good reminder about the importance of words... thank you.

    1. I agree - it's an emotionally difficult read. I've read other Dickens' too, and found this one more difficult in that respect than some of his others. That said, I can see why they scheduled it as there was a lot of good food for thought/fodder for discussion. I wouldn't say I *enjoyed* it, but I did find it worthwhile.

  2. I needed to read this today, thanks Jen. My children do need to know I'm on their side.

    1. Seems so simple...and yet so easy to forget when you are down in the thick of things. (I have to give credit for the thought of being "ever on their side" to Lynn Bruce, though, whose Conference talk I gleaned it from. One of those things that has stuck with me and I've continued to mull over.