CMP Review 2024-02-15

CMP Review 2024-02-15

February 15, 2024

Over the years I have led several workshops with adults where we explore Charlotte Mason’s description of Mansoul in her book Ourselves and investigate how Mason’s idea of Mansoul is informed by her other theological and philosophical writings. In these workshops, we always have a large whiteboard, and the artists among us portray our findings as we go.

When it came time to read Ourselves with my teenager, however, I did not ask him to make an illustration. So I was a bit surprised when on his own initiative he began to take some notes and create a diagram on his own. All his life he has associated colors with words and sounds; thus the four houses of Mansoul naturally suggested colors and my son portrayed them in a square, one quadrant per house.

When I read Ourselves with adults in the Idyll Challenge, I always point out that Book I ends with the House of Heart. Charlotte Mason leaves us in suspense and does not explain the House of Soul until the very end of Book II. The suspense lasted even longer for my son, since we took a couple of years break between Book I and Book II.

This winter we finally reached Part III of Ourselves Book II and began our long-anticipated study of the House of Soul. I always tell adults that these seven chapters contain some of the best of all of Charlotte Mason’s writings. I could not help but express some of this same enthusiasm to my son. He was not disappointed with the first two chapters, as evidenced by his dynamic and thorough narrations.

When I returned from a walk that evening, I found that my son had redone his block diagram of Mansoul. Of course the colors were the same, because apparently words never lose their shade. But he felt compelled to show diagrammatically that the House of Soul — that place inside every heart where a person meets with God — is not merely one quadrant among four.

As I gazed at his new diagram, I reflected on Mason’s words that “in every Mansoul, the ‘Soul’ is the temple dedicate to the service of the living God.” Yes, it does seem to fit in the center of diagram. Just as it sits in the center of every human heart.