If you have not read the other parts and would like to, you can find the other posts here:
Part I: Just As Full As It Needs to Be
Part II: Do You Have Rusty Hinges?
Part III: Useless Things
A recurring theme that stands out in the writings of Miss Mason’s colleagues is this: that Mason lived her philosophy. It was evident in all her professional work and it was evident in how she lived out each moment of her private life as well.
In Home Education, Mason refers to a fable that she appears to have considered fairly common knowledge. She does not go into any detail in the volume and I was not familiar with it, although the title she gave it certainly struck an identifiable chord. She refers to this fable in the context of a section on the out-of-doors life of the young child. Regarding the many suggestions she had for the mother to accomplish with her child during their outdoor time---the little incidental lessons to be had, the games and sports, and the like----she remarked, “…as for the quantity of educational work to be got through, it is the fable of the anxious pendulum over again…” [emphasis mine] I knew that Mason’s friends all credited her to be a great respecter of time, giving it “…to the thing or person claming it rightfully” and certainly not an ‘anxious pendulum’. Was there some help here, for the mother of today facing not only a quantity of educational work to be got through, but a quantity of other demands---housekeeping, service to her church and community, and the rightful demands of her own inner life, to name but a few?
By Jane Taylor
But now a faint tick was heard below from the pendulum, who spoke thus: "I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage; and I am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking." Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged that it was upon the very point of striking. "Lazy wire!" exclaimed the dial plate, holding up its bands.
"Very good!" replied the pendulum; "it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody knows, set yourself up above me,—it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other people of laziness! you who have had nothing to do all your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen. Think, I beseech you, how you would like to be shut up for life in this dark closet, and to wag backward and forward year after year, as I do."
"As to that," said the dial, "is there not a window in your house on purpose for you to look through?" "For all that," resumed the pendulum, "it is very dark here; and, although there is a window, I dare not stop even for an instant to look out at it. Besides, I am really tired of my way of life; and, if you wish, I'll tell you how I took this disgust at my employment. I happened, this morning, to be calculating how many times I should have to tick in the course of only the next twenty-four hours; perhaps some one of you above there can give me the exact sum."
The minute hand, being quick at figures, presently replied, "Eighty-six thousand four hundred times." "Exactly so," replied the pendulum. "Well, I appeal to you all, if the very thought of this was not enough to fatigue anyone; and when I began to multiply the strokes of one day by those of months and years, really it was no wonder if I felt discouraged at the prospect. So, after a great deal of reasoning and hesitation, thinks I to myself, I'll stop."
The dial could scarcely keep its countenance during this harangue; but, resuming its gravity, thus replied: "Dear Mr. Pendulum, I am really astonished that such a useful, industrious person as yourself should have been seized by this sudden weariness. It is true, you have done a great deal of work in your time; so have we all, and are likely to do; which, although it may fatigue us to think of, the question is, whether it will fatigue us to do. Would you now do me the favor to give about half a dozen strokes to illustrate my argument?"
The pendulum complied, and ticked six times at its usual pace. "Now," resumed the dial, "may I be allowed to inquire if that exertion is at all fatiguing or disagreeable to you?" "Not in the least," replied the pendulum; "it is not of six strokes that I complain, nor of sixty, but of millions."
"Very good," replied the dial; "but recollect that, although you may think of a million of strokes in an instant, you are required to execute but one; and that, however often you may hereafter have to swing, a moment will always be given you to swing in." "That consideration staggers me, I confess," said the pendulum. "Then I hope," resumed the dial plate, "that we shall all return to our duty immediately; for the maids will be in bed if we stand idling thus."
Upon this, the weights, who had never been accused of light conduct, used all their influence in urging him to proceed; when, as if with one consent, the wheels began to turn, the hands began to move, the pendulum began to swing, and, to its credit, ticked as loud as ever; while a red beam of the rising sun, that streamed through a hole in the kitchen, shining full upon the dial plate, it brightened up as if nothing had been the matter.
When the farmer came down to breakfast that morning, upon looking at the clock, he declared that his watch had gained half an hour in the night.
Part of our educational walk of faith, so to speak, is to consider well our ‘ticks’---those things that deserve a portion of our time---for there is only space for one tick in every second and then to rest, confidently and contentedly, in the assurance that we are co-laborers with God and that by His grace, he will see this, too, through to completion.