Spaces to Think


On Fridays, we plan to share with you quotes from Charlotte Mason that we’ve been pondering over the past week. For now, we’re calling these posts, “Spaces to Think.” We hope they will give you space in your full day to consider a golden nugget from Mason!


To begin the series, I’ll share with you where we found the idea of “Spaces to Think.”


A few years ago a friend accidentally stumbled across a short, yet lovely piece in the L’Umile Pianta from June 1922, “Education is the Science of Relations,” a summary of a talk given by Miss Parish.

“What Miss Mason’s teaching gives us is really the philosophy of life, the art of living. The realization of our ideal depends upon Proportion. We must have a just sense of proportion, we must have harmony. The old painters new this…We must not think only of developing the body, nor on the other hand of only the mind, but must keep the balance true. We must not overcrowd our lives and live in a perpetual hurry. We want spaces in life to think. Thinking is most important in life.”

I need to hear this again and again. It is too easy to fill our days with busyness, to be pressured to take on more than we should and be left hurrying from one thing to the next. When our schedule is overcrowded, our interior life shrivels.

The analogy to proportion in art and decorating is a helpful one. The summary continues…

“We should not care to have every bit of our walls covered with pictures as beautiful as each might be by itself. Miss Parish told us she had recently slept in a room containing 90 objects! Let us have spaces.”

Yes, let us have spaces!

We have the chance now in the hot, lazy days of August to stop and consider Proportion in our lives.

Do we keep the balance true?

Do we have spaces to think?

When in our day do we stop just to think and do we have a physical space to go to think?

How can we find space in a home of 4 children and a newborn with laundry to be done, meals to be made, spills to be cleaned, emails to return, swim lessons to make and a birthday party to plan?

At a particularly stressful time, I found it helpful to actually create a visual “time budget.” Mystie Winkler writes about it here. Yes, I had a daily schedule for our family, but I so often wondered where did my time go each day? A helpful thing with the time budget was that it also required me to include travel time so that I saw that each event outside our home actually required more time than I had realized.

Why was a “Time Budget” helpful?

I learned that I do accomplish a lot each day! But also in seeing my time laid out, I could see places we needed more space. It helped me to evaluate whether some of our outside activities were really worth so much effort. I also saw blank spaces in my day that I could take better advantage.

The summary from the L’Umile Pianta ends, “…We want a unifying principle to guide us.” Mason shares with us more than an educational plan but an entire “philosophy of life, the art of living” if we make the space to consider it.



Quotes taken from the L’Umile Pianta: For the Children’s Sake. June 1922, p. 23-23. Transcribed from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection, Redeemer University
The L’Umile Pianta was the magazine published for the alumni of Charlotte Mason’s teaching college in Ambleside, England

8 thoughts on “Spaces to Think

  1. Donna Marcozzi August 19, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    Such an appropriate blog, as it is such a challenging issue for me! Thank you for the lovely and succinct reminder!


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