Monday, December 7, 2015

Beauty in Necessity by Karen Andreola

Beauty in Necessity

Marcus fabrics

The Lady-of-the-House has been picking up fabric fourths, hither and thither. Fabric shops dot Lancaster County run by Amish and Mennonite families. One of her favorite shops is in an old barn. When she decided to do some serious quilting - which for her meant doll quilts and pillows, she thought: "When in Rome do as the Romans do."

Christmas rubber stamp

Reproduction fabrics interest the Lady-of-the-House. They can be pricey but 5 minutes from her house, fabric remnants - discontinued from previous year's prints - are sold in a variety store. She scouts around for "Marcus" prints now and again because the store re-stocks regularly and other scavengers are also on the look-out.

Recently, the Lady-of-the-House was in this variety store looking over the Christian Christmas cards, then made her familiar bee-line to the fabric isle. She carried two different prints to the cutting table, silently oo-ing and ahh-ing over her finds, "A quarter yard of each, please," she said - a phrase she had been known to say before.

With rotary cutter poised the fabric cutter smiled at her and said, "You're the Queen of Fourths."

"Well, this comes from following the scrappy look," replied the Lady-of-the-House apologetically. The fabric cutter meant no offense. She meant to be harmlessly amusing. But, perhaps she second-guessed her name-calling, for she softened the conversation by asking about the customer's Thanksgiving, who relaxed a bit and replied that she was happy to have her family together around her long table.

A Myriad of Tasks - A Blessing

A gift sent to the Lady-of-the-House this Christmastime was a deluxe seam ripper. This gift will be put to good use because she is a recurrent-seam-ripper. If she has been cross-stitching in the parlor or at the sewing machine, for half-an-hour, and runs into a snag, she will often call it quits and  set the mistake aside. She can tackle ripping and re-stitching in a better frame of mind the following day when it is greeted as a first step.

Homeward Bound by Tasha Tudor
I mark the middle of the figures as a counting reference.

You see, she's found another use for Charlotte Mason's "short lessons" and "sequence of lessons." She has carried these principles over to the tasks of homemaking. It may seem like an interruption when "on a roll" but going off to do something else for a while uses a different part of the brain while the previous part was spent and in need of rest.

To do "the next thing" is something home teachers and homemakers are very familiar with as their tasks can be immensely varied - from correcting math pages to mopping floors. This myriad of tasks is actually a facet of homemaking to be thankful for. The Lady-of-the-House didn't recognize it as a blessing early on. Perhaps because her to-do list was once to blame for her occasionally feeling frazzled or run-off-her-feet. Applying Miss Mason principle of concise-precise sessions (and "sequence of lessons") however, enabled her to see her myriad of chores as indeed a blessing. Why?

Tasha Tudor cross stitch
Do you recognize this Tasha Tudor illustration?
Ask any physical therapist and he or she will give the advice to "transition" the body throughout the day. Sitting too long or standing too long, for instance, should be replaced with shorter sessions of either when possible. The same can be said about the brain (and disposition).The part of the brain that has been at work, is at rest and being refreshed by a change of occupation  - especially if the "next thing" is something quite different. Afterward the homemaker can return to the first task (or one similar to it) with fresh vigor.

Short sessions of stitching is one restorative in the life of the Lady-of-the-House - a refreshing change of occupation.

William Morris fabric
Quilting a pillow cover. Gold fabric found in four different shops.
Beauty within Necessity

The following statement pulled on her heartstrings when she heard it in a museum lecture.

A pioneer woman, living in a sod house, was asked why she quilts - when her day demands she tackle so many other chores before sunset - she replied:

"I make my quilts as fast as I can to keep my children from freezing and as beautiful as I can to keep my heart from breaking.

How do you turn a one-room sod house into a home, even if it's a temporary home on the American prairie? You make beautiful scrappy quilts. Homemakers long to create beauty within necessity. If at least one of their chores enables them to create something beautiful for their home (be it a garden, a meal, or an attractive piece of clothing) they can persevere.

Prairie Children and Their Quilts

Kathleen Tracy's Prairie Children and Their Quilts is one of the Lady-of-the-House's new favorite quilt books. When her girls were young, she would have gravitated to it - if the book had been written then and she had spied it at a book fair. She likes history and  traditional crafts. It was, in the American girlhood of yesteryear, that small quilts like the doll quilts in this book, were made.

Doll quitls
Mrs. Tracy carefully wraps 19th century first-hand sources around her quilt instructions. The old photographs, the letters and diaries in this book, written by prairie girls in the 19th century, are telling. They reveal some of the hardships of going west in a wagon train. They took me back to the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder - although Laura is understandably discreet  - as the Little House Series is read aloud to so young an audience.

Prairie Children and Their Quilts is a history resource as much as a quilt book. After reading it as well as American  Doll Quilts, and doing some of the projects, it occurred to the Lady-of-the-House that they would make enjoyable mother-daughter projects (for middle-school-though high school). But mostly Kathleen Tracy's books are purchased by grown-ups like the Lady-of-the-House who like the antique-look, who hadn't had any quilting in their girlhood, and who wish to backtrack some - just for fun.

A Little Quilt for Christmastime

When an antique doll quilt caught her eye, the Lady-of-the-House went bananas (but inwardly bananas so her menfolk wouldn't think her daft.)  The red-n-white double nine-patch on-line looked to be so simple and sweet it called out to be replicated, leaving the solid squares empty of a quilt design as the original is, to retain its soft, oft-used, appearance. Pieced and hand-quilted in just two weeks, it is being used as a cheerful Christmas decoration. One day this cute doll-quilt will be handed down to her granddaughter.

red and white doll quilt
A doll quilt made festive for Christmastime.

In Closing
When the Lady-of-the-House returned from the variety store she had to smile. The phrase, "Queen of Fourths", she decided, was a compliment. It reminded her of what is recorded on her Mother Culture CD  - that a homemaker is queen of her household. For love and duty, in all the myriad of tasks she fulfills, she is queen of a great many things.

Quilted with off-white thread.
End Notes:

My article is up on Israel Wayne's Homeschool Pioneer website. Here you can read a host of stories.

Tasha Tudor Cross-stitch
Did you know that some of Tasha Tudor's illustrations have been made into cross-stitch? I bought one this year - well ahead of Christmas - made as a gift for a mother who has boys and corgis. She's unwrapped it and it's hanging on her wall this Christmastime. (The kit includes 18-ct Aida. I stitched on 28-ct linen bought separately.) Amazon has a few other Tasha Tudor designs.

Quaker Hand-of-Friendship, mostly known as Bear Paw.
Tasha Tudor Cross-stitch Homeward Bound.

 Prairie Children and Their Quilts.  My Pennsylvania Quaker Hand-of-Friendship doll quilt is one of the small quilts in this book. (You can see it on the cover.)
Quilted with black thread with stitches of comfortable length.  
 Fons and Porter Ergonomic Seam Ripper An indispensable tool for this quilter. 

Frosty mornings but no snow yet. 

A Very Merry Christmas to you,

Karen Andreola

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Charlotte Mason's "Thoughts Think Themselves" by Karen Andreola

Charlotte Mason's "Thoughts Think Themselves"

My little girl was faced with a decision. "Why don't you sleep on it?" I said. My words sounded silly to her. She giggled. Apparently it was the first time she had heard the expression.

"Sleep on it?" she echoed. Perhaps my suggestion sounded like make-believe.

"Yes," I answered. "If you can't decide today which color you'd like me to make your doll's pillow, take the idea to bed with you. Tomorrow the answer may come," I said, and then went back to washing the supper dishes.
basting a doll quilt "Quaker Hand of Friendship" 
"Thoughts think themselves," says Miss Charlotte Mason - when they are nourished with an initial idea. In the mind that is curious thoughts will often run in due course without conscience effort. My little girl gave "sleep-on-it" a try.  In the morning she greeted me at breakfast with, "It worked, Mommy! I decided!"

Have you ever wondered about the great emphasis Charlotte Mason placed on ideas? She emphasized ideas on the pages of Philosophy of Education especially, but it pops up in all her books.

"What's an idea? Is it a concept? A plan? A judgement? Or does the word have a deeper meaning?" asked a conscientious home teacher in her letter to me.

Remove pins and it is ready for hand-quilting. 
An idea can be all these things, I replied. An idea is something to think about, to expound upon, to make applicable. It is more than a list of cold hard facts. But it does take facts into consideration. Cause and effect in a story will bring forth ideas - so do cause and effect in a science experiment. The verses of poetry can help make visible to us ideas contained within the invisible nouns of generosity, sorrow, joy, honesty or self-sacrifice, for instance.

One New Idea a Day 

Presenting the student with at least one new idea a day is a doable aim for the Charlotte-Mason-minded-teacher. Ideas are at her fingertips. At the risk of sounding repetitive to my long-term-readers: Living books are alive with ideas. Nature, music and art present us with ideas, too. We cannot know which ideas will be the most attractive to our children. Therefore we spread the table with a varied diet of ideas.

My grandchildren were here - over the river and through the woods . . . 
One Thought Leads to Another

Not only do living books sow the seeds of ideas, but given room, a child will bump into them - because one thought leads to another. In the life of a small child an idea might be as simple as, "Hey, Mom, I have two cheerios and if I give you one, now we both have one - we're equal - says the Kindergarten child (my grandson) with a twinkling countenance - as if it was he who made the original discovery of this mathematical concept.

Grandsons contribute to the table decoration.
Ideas Grow on Us

I used to tell my audience, whenever I was asked to speak on the Gentle Art of Learning, that an idea is like a watermelon pit. A father and son were sitting together at a picnic table eating some juicy watermelon. "What will happen to me Dad? I just swallowed a pit?

"A big watermelon is going to grow in your stomach." Dad says with a smile.We shouldn't underestimate the power of an idea because it is small. An idea often starts out as small as a seed. But like a seed it isn't stagnant. It will sprout and grow in the right circumstances.

Mornings are meeker. Our woods await winter. Birds' nests are exposed.
Ideas are Motivating

Ideas aren't stagnant because they are stimulating. They motivate us to question.

Even a little idea can have big consequences. It can motivate us to action. It can motivate us to virtue or (I'm sorry to say) to vice.

I like how the chapter "Inventions" in Boyhood and Beyond invites a boy to consider the outcome of ideas-acted-upon for good.

A Boyhood Curiosity - Not to be Squashed

     Questions, questions, questions. Thomas continually asked questions. What makes a hot air balloon fly? How does a chicken hatch an egg? How does hydrogen combine with oxygen to make water? When no one could answer his questions, he experimented to find the answers. . .
     Mrs. Edison, Thomas' mother, enrolled him in the local school when he was seven years old. His teacher did not like boys to ask questions and punished those who did. When Mrs. Edison learned that the teacher had labeled her son as an empty brain, she ended his school career and taught him herself.

Illustration is licensed  for use from Look and Learn Publishing Company

A Man Motivated by Ideas

     Mrs. Edison set out to take advantage of her son's boyhood curiosity and keep it alive. She gave him freedom to follow up an idea or a question. She allowed him room to let thoughts think themselves as Miss Mason says. Mrs. Edison called what she did with her son, Thomas,

      exploring the exciting world of knowledge. Soon he began to learn so fast that his mother could no longer teach him.
     . . . As his knowledge grew and his questions were answered he began to apply his understanding to the needs and situation of his life. Thomas Edison had become an inventor.

The author of Boyhood and Beyond, gives us other examples in this chapter and returns to Edison who "devoted himself to what he called, 'the desperate needs of the world.'"

Author, Bob Shultz writes:

     "God created you with the desire to invent. Songs, programs, products, methods, art, literature, and tools, are waiting to be invented by you. . . .

     What should your attitude be when your invention fails? While attempting to develop a storage battery, Edison attempted ten thousand experiments that failed. He was not discouraged. He now had ten thousand ways not to go. Don't give up if you fail. Learn from the mistake and try again.. .
     Become the inventor God created you to be. Meet the desperate needs of the world."

Home Learning - a Superb Setting

I finished my letter to the conscientious mother."I see, by the stack of books on your blog, that you needn't be so concerned about lessons absent of ideas."

Home learning is a superb setting because it is here where these important ideas-made-personal can flourish. It is here where curiosity can be kept alive, where thoughts think themselves through questioning, narration, conversation, through play, through quiet-time, through free time - perhaps while watering Mother's flowers in the back garden watching the bumble bees, during the same space of time perhaps - when other children in the neighborhood are confronted with a 45-minute bus trip, then an hour or more of dreary homework.

While scrolling through this mother's blog I also spotted handiwork the family completed over the summer months: a customized wooden bookshelf, bottles of pink fruit, a bright patchwork. "Beautiful," I commented on her blog.
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Thomas Edison

 "I have an idea," thought the young cellist privately. After hearing a sermon on sympathy the teen-age boy, while still seated in the pew, spoke with his parents. Then, although he was shy and self-conscious he was certain. He stepped up to the white-haired pastor of the little country church to ask if he could join him and the few other singers and young musicians who go to minister at the nursing home once-a-month. This young man went on to putting the daily hour of his cello practice to good ends. That Sunday seemed to mark the moment when he'd left the biggest part of his shyness behind him.

The sun sets "before" supper now.
Sweet Dreams

Fed by fear, dark thoughts think themselves - and can be haunting. Bad news at bedtime is alarming. Terrorists in the news and violent crime are a distressing enough reality in the daylight. I try to not view news film-clips on Facebook in our now-dark-evenings. But if I have done so, no matter how late it is, I pick up a book, after casting-cares in prayer, and turn my attention to a paragraph of something noble, or light and sweet, to-think-about. I'd rather "sleep on" that.

End Notes

The picture of young Thomas Edison is a book illustration by Angus McBride (1931-2007). It is not public-domain. The copyright is owned by the publisher Look and Learn of Great Britain. I arranged to license it (for a fee) for this one-time-use on my blog.

I recommend Boyhood and Beyond - Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man  for boys ages 10-16. I am linking it to Amazon where you can read the costumer reviews.

I finished Eloise's cardigan.

My colored paragraph excerpts from Boyhood and Beyond are used with permission by the publisher Great Expectations. Pages 95, 96 and 99.

"Thoughts think themselves," is a phrase used by Charlotte Mason in her book, Parents & Children page 156. *For her take on "sleep-on-it" see also pages 88-89.

My anecdote of the teenage cellist is based on my knowledge of some young people who steered away from being all-too-commonly self-absorbed the more they chose to serve others. They will be anonymous this time round.

Knitting Lingo
Looking to use a stretchy bind-off for my cardigan's neck (rather than the conventional one) I checked YouTube and found just what I wanted: a "sewn" bind-off demonstrated by Interweave Press. I recommend this bind-off for children's pullovers especially, as they have Charlie Brown size heads.

I see that some are sharing my blog posts and Facebook posts. Thank-you.
Click any image to enlarge.

I enjoy our visits.

As always,
Karen Andreola

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stopping by to say Hello

Stopping by to say Hello

imperfect patchworkGlad to have you back, Readers.

Today I'm in the blog neighborhood for a chat. Most of what you find here are articles. Lately, though, I've been pulled in different directions. Here's one.

Years back, when a new homemaker, I did some quilting. With household moves in succession - keeping much of our things in storage - quilting faded into the past. Then, homeschooling was a practical concern and much of my spare time was given to reading.

I'm still reading. I read for hours. But lately I've been dabbling in quilting again. I've started with doll size quilts in the "scrappy" old-fashioned look.

Imperfect Patchwork
In my attic office/sewing room I have a chair which seems to be used, these days, more for laying out a small quilt design than for sitting in. The fabric sticks to it nicely. My sewing machine is next to this chair making it handy to sew pieces and return them to their orderly position. Oh, how frequently I change my mind! In the case of this simple quilt I decided the pink dotted flowers, for setting the squares, were dizzying. I ripped out what I had sewn so far. It is rare that I sit down to sew anything without using my seam ripper on some change or mistake. If points don't meet I will rip out and sew it again.

Sometimes, when points don't meet exactly, even when I'm being careful, I'm satisfied. I leave them just as they are. These misses may look noticeable when the the quilt block is flat, but quilting the layers tends to soften the lines and minimize imperfections. And isn't it these slight imperfections that give charm to a homemade quilt?
the scrappy look

I recently bought a rotary cutter but haven't used this modern streamline-method yet. Instead I measure the pieces as accurately as possible with a quilt ruler and cut the pieces out with scissors.

easy doll quilt with squares
I read that for scrappy patchwork, if I like the colors I shouldn't be concerned about them clashing when placed side-side. If the same color is used in at least one other spot, it creates a somewhat planned appearance. I followed this advice with my quilt. Can you tell?

I baste layers together generously because I don't use a hoop. It is easier on the fingers to hand-quilt without one.

Because I lack confidence I quilt in the ditch of each square. But I'd like to stitch some designs into the quilt squares I'm piecing now.

After watching a YouTube on how to sew on a binding I ordered a "walking foot" for my machine. What a fabulous tool for preventing puckering. And while I was at it, a piecing foot, too - that keeps my scant one-forth-of-an-inch seams consistent.

I'd like to hang this quilt somewhere.

stone house in autumn

Autumn Colors
One scrawny wild-in-the-woods-maple is showing a beautiful shade of red leaves. Splashes of autumn color are finding their way in the doll quilt I'm piecing now (not shown) - and found their way into a skirt I made for myself.
 A remnant on the bargain shelf - of a store five minutes into town - caught my eye. 
Right there I dreamed up a frugal three tiered skirt.

skirt in fall colors

Other Writing
Another direction I've taken is "other" writing. I made a good start on something secretive. In the middle of this writing Israel Wayne contacted me. He is building a website where homeschool pioneers tell their story. I felt honored to be invited and was busy writing for it last month. I hope to link to his website when the article is in place.

Once in a while my writing appears in a magazine. I am happy to help spread the word about Miss Charlotte Mason's ideas which are to this day as-relevant-as-ever. Hours and hours go into writing one article. This article appeared in The Renewanation Review that promotes Christian worldview education.

My family came together for my birthday. It was joyous. We are infrequently all together. That same Saturday Dean's friend from Bible college and his wife, were touring in Lancaster and stopped by. My daughter asked them to take an impromptu photograph.

Baby Eloise is getting a little bigger.

I've been knitting a cardigan for her in tutti-fruity colors.

I always knit sleeves in-the-round.


knitting sleeves in the round

Daniel and Yolanda (left in photo) drove me to see my parents for a week-end in early autumn. I brought my knitting. When I got home I was surprised to find the sleeves did not match the body of the cardigan with the right amount of stitches - when attempting to attach them to the yoke. While packing my suitcase in haste I  scribbled down the stitches to be cast on and my eye must have landed on the wrong number - (haste-makes-waste). I ripped out the sleeves and started over. Anyway, it is coming along.

Here's a tip for cardigans. Slip the first stitch of each row. This forms a much neater edge. (See above.)

To hold my double pointed needles together I bought a set of plastic coils. I like how tidy they keep my narrow dp needles especially.

Here is a link for Clover Coils.

They come in small and large.

Nigel and I went to Philadelphia to see our pain specialist. Nigel has made very small improvements. I'll be honest. My chronic pain level has risen. The medicine I've succumbed to taking has side-effects. But I'm hanging in there. Mornings are my golden hours when I can accomplish tasks. Afternoons are restful. I've been a naturalist of sorts, and probably have eaten a barrel of locally grown broccoli this year. Still, I thank God for family, modern medicine and for creative Mother Culture.

Facebook is new for me. Welcome to my Author's Facebook Page. 

I've been reading the names of each person that has "liked" the quotations and excerpts I've posted. Keep walking with Jesus, my friends.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola

Saturday, October 3, 2015

British Friends, A British Author

British Friends, a British Author
We had visitors around this time last year. Our British friends, the Fox family (Frances and her husband Ian and younger daughter Hannah) were coming to the United States and could they spend a day with us? How exciting. Yes. We looked forward to it. They would join us at church, Sunday dinner at our house, and later tea.

Karen, Frances, Hannah  2014

I know Frances from our early days of home teaching. (We've been writing paper letters for 25 years.) She found me when L'Abri in England pointed her my way. In those days everything was done through the mail - for us: air-mail. Frances wrote asking about Parents' Review. She was one of my first subscribers in 1991. She was reading and learning about Miss Charlotte Mason when I was. Her two girls, Rachel and Hannah and my own, corresponded for a time. Our girls are now young women who keep in touch the modern way, through Facebook.

A happy meeting of  friendship-afar:  Hannah  - Yolanda 
When Frances read my description of the book, Linnea in Monet's Garden in Parents' Review, she didn't just buy the book. She decided to go to Monet's garden in Giverny, France while on holiday. France is a hop, skip and a jump from where the Foxes live southeast of London. Later, Frances wrote me about their visit to Giverny and I put her experience in the magazine under the title "The Foxes in Monet's Garden." Cute? Those who have Parents' Review will find it in Fall-1994 - with a picture of Linnea drawn by my daughter Sophia - whose reading the of book and imagination had to suffice.

Knowing that Frances would spend a Sunday with us, and that I would be teaching a Sunday School class for mothers that morning, I asked Frances if she would share in class. She wrote me one last paper letter before flying to the United States, that she would be happy to. (We correspond on paper -still.) I hoped the ladies would find, not only our discussion interesting, but certainly her accent as well. It was my plan to talk about the moral value of stories. When the day came I asked Frances some questions in class about the author Patricia St John - pronouncing this author's name Sinjun - like the American Injun, as Frances had corrected me politely in private. Anyway, my pen friend contributed beautifully and honestly. Thank you, Frances.

You see, I had not forgotten that in the 1990s  - responding to Frances' invitation - Patricia St. John came to speak at her church. Frances had thoughtfully placed the cassette recording in a letter to me then. Miss St. John (1919-1993) has since passed away but having read her autobiography and having listened to her voice and message, I feel a sort of warm acquaintance with her. I still have the recording. I found her message to be so inspiring when I first heard it that I turned it into an article for Parents' Review, Summer-1996.

Yolanda, one of our married daughters, still has a video player. Therefore, I've hung onto our video of Miss St John's story - Treasures of the Snow - set in Switzerland (where she lived for part of her girlhood).  It is probably the best known of her stories. Its characters demonstrate repentance, forgiveness, true friendship, and courage. (I do not see a DVD for sale on Amazon.)

Many appreciate how this author, with sensitivity, weaves a Christian theme into each uncomplicated plot. For this reason parents will choose one as a family read-aloud. My children read Treasures of the Snow, Tanglewood's Secret and others - silently in their leisure. I hadn't read any. Therefore, not too long ago I picked up Twice Freed.  I'm glad I did. It enlarged my Christian sympathies. (Something that needs enlivening periodically.)

A Dream Come True

Reading her autobiography in the 1990s - An Ordinary Woman's Extraordinary Story - I learned that Patricia Mary St. John served as a nurse and missionary in North Africa after World War II. Years later, a girlhood dream came true. In 1966 Miss St. John traveled with her sister in a Volkswagen to many of the places where St. Paul preached. As a young girl she had the notion of one day writing a story about Onesimus, the runaway slave. Philemon was a book of the Bible that had captured her developing imagination.

Many years later, after visiting the cities mentioned in the book of Acts, she wrote, Twice Freed. It merits a place in the history curriculum but could be read anytime.

Twice Freed is a conversion story, as inferred in its title. Although written by a Protestant, set in the time of the early church, it does not wave a Protestant or Catholic flag. It is one that can be appreciated by either. Our Christian roots are the same.

The review I've written is placed in the post script for those interested.

New Facebook Page 

Recently, I put up a Facebook Page for an author. I think the banner my son made for my author's page is spectacular. It is amazingly done with the use of on-line drawing tools. Nigel extended the oil painting of Miss Charlotte Mason, meticulously. The British robin perched on the fence post was drawn by my request. Nigel (my instructor in all-things-techie) tells me that clicking "Like" will notify my readers of new posts. 

Post Script
The photographs of summer's close, with the growing season looking a bit tired, were taken by the Man-of-the-House at Landis Valley.

For your convenience I am linking to Amazon, books mentioned in this article, where you can read further reviews. 

Linnea in Monet's Garden  (There is a dvd too - I remember borrowing this calm cartoon from the library).
Treasures of the Snow
An Ordinary Woman's Extraordinary Faith  My high school age daughter read this after I did.
Twice Freed

A Hypothetical Flashback
Something occurred to me while finishing this article. That is: Looking back over my children's growing years, I have a suspicion - and a very strong guess - that we wouldn't have had such bookish adventures or fabulous friendships had we taken a road other than the Gentle Art of Learning. That's why it is easy for me to forecast to my young or new Charlotte-Mason-minded readers, "You have a wonderful adventure ahead of you."

Have you read any of Patricia St. John's stories?

Twice Freed by Patricia St. John
Review by Karen Andreola

Onesimus has an unsettled heart. In the first chapters I looked at this fatherless teen as a mother would. And just as his mother did I thought, “Onesimus, why can’t you accept being a slave? It’s not so bad." But when Onesimus is unjustly accused of stealing something that was maliciously slipped into his pocket without his knowledge, and his master Philemon orders that he be given a beating for it, I pitied Onesimus. My maternal sympathy rose to meet his suffering soul and body.

Bitterness takes root and settles in the boy's hardening heart. When the opportunity presents itself, he gives into a moment of temptation. He commits an irreversible act of revenge. I turned the pages more slowly after that. I was disgusted with Onesimus. But a ray of light shines into the cracks of the story. It made me turn the pages again with hope and anticipation. While doing business with a merchant in Ephesus, Master Philemon goes to hear a man speak of a new religion (with Onesimus). That man is Paul - an apostle of Christ. Philemon gives his life to Christ. But the scraps of St. Paul's teaching that reach the ears of Onesimus, do not move him. He isn’t interested in peace, brotherly love and forgiveness of sin. They are ideas of weakness to this boy, approaching manhood, whose heart seethes with ambition and a desire for self-importance.

His mother, too, becomes a Christian. But all the boy can think of is breaking free. He runs away from Philemon (though a kinder master), his monotonous life, and the dull little streets of Colosse. He manages to make his way to the city of Rome. But no one can run away from God if his Holy Spirit is working in the heart and mind of one whose heart is broken by regret and harsh circumstances. 

The cover of the book shows Onesimus smiling at a pretty girl. Mistress Eirene is the daughter of a merchant who, in the beginning of the story travels to Philemon’s household to close a business deal. She has a kind and gentle spirit. She doesn’t talk down to Onesimus although he is a slave. Longing for her friendship, against all odds, he plans to somehow meet her again. This is a very small part of the story - although the cover seems to convey otherwise - and is handled honorably.

Not a plot where all characters meet with health, wealth and prosperity, both hardship and joy work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Isn't this the best kind of happy ending?

Twice Freed    For ages 12 to teen - to adult - unless you have a sensitive child (as I had.)

Nice to visit with you againHappy Reading,

Karen Andreola

My Parents' Review is described here.