You may have never heard of a commonplace book. Most of my friends look at me a little strangely when I mention it…
The idea is simple. You could really just call it a quote book. But I got tangled up in the Charlotte Mason crowd, and she and others used to call it a commonplace book. It really is encouraging to go back and look at what you thought was important enough to write down from the books you read. Here’s what Charlotte says about them.
It is very helpful to read with a commonplace book or reading diary, in which to put down any striking thought in your author, or your own impression of the work, or any part of it; but not summaries of facts. Such a diary, carefully kept through life, should be exceedingly interesting as containing the intellectual history of the writer; besides, we never forget the book that we have made extracts from, and of which we have taken the trouble to write a short review.
This goes along with what I mentioned to you all awhile back. I really think it is a valuable trick she is teaching us, especially women, to always have something worthy of thinking about. When we don’t have good things for our minds to chew on, it’s all too easy to dwell on what someone said that hurt us, or why we may be irritated with our husband.
Since I’m a random person, my book would make a neat, tidy person go bonkers. I have put pictures of my sweet little people in my book…randomly. No order to it at all.
I’ll give you a few examples of what I’ve recently put in my book.
Those who seek first their own pleasure out of marriage and make the happiness of their partners only a possible by-product…are doomed to misery. It is an inexorable law of our lives that only through making others happy can we expect happiness. So many wives seem to want to learn this lesson the hard, bitter way.
The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Savior. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is – Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil.
-Oswald Chambers August 10th
That is a painful quote. We want to tell people when we feel “God is dealing hardly with us”. But I love that quote, and it seems to go hand in hand with my next one.
You need not cry very loud, He is nearer than you think.
– Brother Lawrence
It is no small comfort to me to know that God has called me to my work, putting me where I am and as I am. I have not sought the position, and I dare not leave it. He knows why He places me here-whether to do, or learn, or suffer.
Shall I tell you the secret to happiness? A thankful heart.
– Margaret Jensen, in First we have Coffee
And now for the fiction. Somehow I even choose fiction that hurts!
She was shamed. Women like herself, sheltered, indulged, secure, beloved, and yet they dared to find life hard; they dared to pity themselves because the path they trod was strewn with pink rose petals when their own choice would have been crimson. –
-Elizabeth Goudge in Pilgrim’s Inn
Maybe some of you already do this. It is a comfort to look back through these when things seem difficult. I suppose one of the tricks to this is that you have to be reading things that supply good quotes. I think you can tell a lot about someone by what they read.
One of the great and humbling joys of my life so far, was seeing what Alyssa had written in her book. She reads good things.