Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ramona, Little Women, and Masterly Inactivity

I am loving reading Little Women aloud to Ramona, and I was reminded of this post from six years ago, when I read the book to Anne and Betsy, then ages 12 and 10.

If you can manage some masterly inactivity this week, I wish you sweet daydreams.


What would one think if one were to happen upon a scene such as this:

A girl is lying on a couch, doing nothing. It is evening, around sunset. She remains in the same spot for some time. Is she lazy? Or sullen? Has she no evening chores to do? No one to care for, nothing to accomplish that is more worthwhile than wasting an evening in slothful lounging?


What would one think if one were, while reading, to happen upon a passage such as this:

Jo was alone in the twilight, lying on the old sofa, looking at the fire, and thinking. It was her favorite way of spending the hour of dusk; no one disturbed her, and she used to lie there on Beth's little red pillow, planning stories, dreaming dreams, or thinking tender thoughts of the sister who never seemed far away.
~~ Little Women

Charlotte Mason used a phrase of her time -- "masterly inactivity" -- to refer to the time that must be allowed children (or young adults, as Jo was in the above passage ... or old adults, ahem....) to simply be. To think, to ponder, to make connections between life, faith, literature, and sunsets.

How far we have wandered, in our "I'm so proud of how busy we are" world, from the idea that masterly inactivity is of intrinsic value. When we lose the time needed to think and ponder, we lose connections. We lose sunsets, and we forget that life cannot and should not always be managed, scheduled and controlled. We forget to dream dreams and before we know it, tender thoughts are forgotten, because we find we have been too rushed to allow ourselves the luxury of them.

If you can, plan to spend some unplanned time soon ... a quiet twilight, time on the couch, a fire, and tender thoughts.


Sue said...

Thanks for the great reminder! It's so tempting to use those time during the day when I find a few minutes to check facebook or email. The sunset is long gone now, but I will try for some of that Masterly Inactivity tomorrow!

Domini said...

Oh, how I miss "masterly inactivity" -- thank you for a delightful and heartwarming reminder.

RC of strangecultureblog said...

My daughter is 4 and love reading out books others have read to their daughters. She loves books and you've reminded me of some gems to bust out in due time! Thank you.

Elisa said...

You're so right! I crave my "home days"..days I've set aside to just be home without errands and to-do lists. They are the best days.