Ourselves: Nossos Corpos, Nossas Almas

Ourselves: Nossos Corpos, Nossas Almas

Este artigo também se encontra disponível em Português.

“For to understand one human being so completely that you feel his feelings and think his thoughts is really like gaining possession of a new world; it is gaining the power of living in another’s life.” (Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, Book I, p. 95)

In the summer of 2019, I attended a Charlotte Mason Institute conference in Iowa where I heard Nancy Kelly’s presentation on the use of the book Ourselves in the citizenship curriculum. I had read Ourselves in the past, but I had read it with the eyes of self-reflection. While I believed that all people should read it for themselves, given that my children were still in the early years, I had not been awakened to the power this book could have in the life of a child. It was not until I heard Nancy’s talk that this powerful idea reached me. Nancy shared that the quote above was her daughter’s favorite in the book, and I was amazed at how deeply the idea reached into the soul of such a young person. I took home from her presentation a little printed postcard with that quote, which has taken a permanent place on the wall of our study room. I left the presentation feeling excited about the possibilities for my children as we would start reading Ourselves together in the near future. I was excited about the gift this book would be for our lives and about how blessed I was to have such powerful material available for my children.

Now, I would like you to think back to the warm feelings you had when the first ideas in Mason’s philosophy and method reached your heart and mind. Do you remember that cozy feeling of “Yes! So much truth!”? Do you remember the light bulb going on, and do you remember the moment when you realized that this was what you were looking for? I remember that moment and the butterflies I felt. I remember the excitement, the feeling of being so grateful to have encountered Mason. Now imagine that after you fell in love with her ideas, you discovered that Miss Mason also wrote a book full of ideas for life and for the understanding of all our human possibilities — good and bad — and that it was written especially for children to read with their parents. Your level of excitement is now exploding out of your heart and you can barely wait to put that book in your child’s hand. There is only one problem. Your child does not read the language in which the book was written, and therefore she will not be able to sit at that table, that banquet prepared by Charlotte herself.

In 2018 and 2019 I worked with the Charlotte Mason community in Brazil, the country I am originally from, to help bring some of Mason’s writings to the Portuguese-speaking world. Mason’s ideas were brand new there, but some interest was beginning to stir in the small homeschooling community. With a small team of volunteers, Charlotte Mason Brasil translated Parents’ Review articles; led study groups of Home Education (which had become available in Portuguese); curated living books of Brazilian history, literature, poetry, and nature resources; and promoted Brazilian classical music and art studies. Part of my contribution was to record a series of podcast episodes on the 20 principles, and we all watched the community slowly grow in the knowledge of Mason’s educational philosophy. In the summer of 2019, I had started a new series on the podcast with the intent of bringing the voices of the PNEU educators on the teachings of various subjects to the Portuguese speaking community. The first episode in the series spoke of the teaching of citizenship and brought to the public the experience of a PNEU teacher using Ourselves with her students. Her experience was published in the Parents’ Review in 1909 and had recently been transcribed and shared by the Charlotte Mason Poetry team. The voices of the little children in that article again spoke to me, and I could not help but feel sorrow for the children who had no access to this amazing work by Charlotte Mason. I thought of the importance Mason placed on a “liberal education for all” and thought to myself, “She couldn’t have meant only the English speaking pupils…” Ourselves needed to be available for those children in Brazil, and I felt a pull in my heart that it needed to be available soon. I felt the feelings of those mothers who would not be able to have their children sit at the table of ideas that Mason so carefully served up in Ourselves.

Translating Book I of Ourselves and making it available freely for Portuguese-speaking families was an exercise of some of Love’s Lords in Waiting… in particular one: Sympathy allowed me to gain possession of a whole new world, gaining the power of living in another’s life. And although there is still much to be done to bring all of Mason’s ideas into many different languages, and for that I must still feel sorrow, even so Mason herself also said, “sympathy is comprehension; and he reaps harvests of joy for himself” (Ourselves, Book I, p. 95).

The original title of the book, Ourselves, our Souls and Bodies, gives us a clear explanation of the purpose of this book. The title was meant to sound familiar to members of the Church of England who regularly heard these five words as part of the prayer before receiving the Lord’s Supper. The words, inspired by Romans 12:1-4, call us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds; to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, which is our spiritual worship and service; and to think with sober judgement according to the faith God assigns us. Our Portuguese translation carries the original title as Mason intended, and it uses the words of the Portuguese version of the same prayer, as found in the Book of Common Prayer used in Brazil today.

I am ever so thankful for the help of our wonderful revision team. Without their help, countless volunteer hours, and many long discussions over content and how to ensure no idea was lost, this project would not have come to be completed. Rafaela Becker, Janice Chaves, Gabriely Cruvinel, Paula Lima, Debora Linck, Felipe Rodrigues, Camila Ruela, Ana Simoes, and Rachel Van De Burgt were as important in the revision part of this project as translating the book was, and the community in Brazil has much to be thankful for in having them in their midst. I also would like to thank the team at Charlotte Mason Poetry for helping with formatting and for hosting the free translation. It was a pleasure to work on translating Book I of Ourselves and I look forward to starting Book II this year. This translation was truly a work completed “for the children’s sake”. As such, it is made available freely for private homes and noncommercial use only.

Read Nossos Corpos, Nossas Almas at this link: http://charlottemasonpoetry.org/nossos-corpos-nossas-almas/

Tina is a wife, mom, and a lover of the Lord. She has been a friend of Charlotte Mason since 2016, blessed to be part of a thriving community in Peoria, Illinois, and excited to start her older boy in formal lessons this year. Tina is also a part-time neonatal dietitian at a local hospital, and a foster mom. Born in Brazil and naturalized Canadian and American, her triple citizenship gives her an appreciation for the beauty in cultural diversity and a love for world travel and ethnic foods. Other than traveling, Tina enjoys sewing and exercising, and she is learning to play the violin along with her 6 year old.

Copyright ©2020, Tina Schallhorn

6 Replies to “Ourselves: Nossos Corpos, Nossas Almas”

  1. LOVE! the work you’ve done is so worthwhile. i pray it will be helpful to many, as undoubtedly it was to those who have labored over it! i am so pleased, as an entire avenue has now been opened leading to rich new vistas! thank you for your labor!

    1. Thank you Amy! I too have prayed that our labor is able to touch children across the world, and that it helps extend the “liberal education for all” goal that was so dear to miss Mason.

  2. Thank you, Tina, for your faithfulness in this project. Also to Rafaela Becker, Janice Chaves, Gabriely Cruvinel, Paula Lima, Debora Linck, Felipe Rodrigues, Camila Ruela, Ana Simoes, Rachel Van De Burgt and CMP! For the children’s sake…that they might believe!

    1. Nancy, your talk last summer has lived with me all these months, and has nurtured the desire to keep on translating, even when it seemed to never end…. I thank you for all you do, and all the seeds you plant.

  3. Tina,
    What beautiful work! I know it was a labor of love! Recently in Brazil, my husband’s cousin asked me about our homeschool life in the states. I am so very thankful I can forward her the resources you all worked so hard to make available to the Portuguese speaking community. Obrigada!

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