|In the Gloaming by George Inness 1893|
Gloaming is an Old English word that refers to dusk or early evening. In my mind, it describes a mood, too. A mood that is watchful, quiet, mysterious. The word is used in the Advent reading that begins tomorrow, November 28th in The Cloud of Witness (p. 4). I hope that, while the world hustles and bustles through the commercial crassness this post-Thanksgiving season brings, you and I can both breathe and infuse our days with meditative thoughts during this waiting time where we reflect on the tiny baby who came, anticipate a Glorious Coming, and watch for sightings in the here and now.
|Our Advent wreath for this year – a gift from a friend in Texas!|
But the Florentine mind of the Middle Ages went further than this: it believed, not only that the seven Liberal Arts were fully under the direct outpouring of the Holy Ghost, but that every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit, without any thought at all as to whether the person so inspired named himself by the name of God, or recognised whence his inspiration came. All of these seven figures are those of persons whom we should roughly class as pagans, and whom we might be lightly inclined to consider as outside the pale of the divine inspiration. It is truly difficult to grasp the amazing boldness of this scheme of the education of the world
which Florence accepted in simple faith. Vol. 2, p. 271
And because of this understanding of common grace – this idea that all people, whether Christian or not, have the capacity for truth, beauty, and goodness (albeit not a full understanding) – she could enjoy and glean from this book that quotes from the pagans Plato and Marcus Aurelius to Christians such as Ruskin and MacDonald. John Calvin puts it this way, “All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it: for it has come from God.”
The Cloud of Witness has a particular theme for the week and then each day begins with a verse from the Bible followed by inspiring bits of poetry and prose from dozens of luminaries. In this way we can understand and enjoy truth from so many different sources while continuing to place the Bible as the supreme source. Just as Mason recognized that all truth is God’s truth through her Great Recognition, we also begin to grasp the concept and suddenly our world expands exponentially and we find beauty and goodness where we might not have looked as our room (world) gets bigger and bigger. The Cloud of Witness was found on her bookshelf at the end of her life. A fitting, handwritten quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest was found inside the front cover that reads,” I wonder how many goodly creatures are here, how beauteous mankind is.”
I wonder if Mason could have foreseen how this little-big book of sayings and Scripture that she presented to graduates in order to keep them as one at least
meditatively would affect a group of educators in the 21st century using text messaging, social media and other means. Blest be the tie that binds!
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