I happened upon this fetching little phrase in the second chapter of Elizabeth Goudge’s book, The Rosemary Tree, and immediately thought how well it matched the idea of Mother Culture. (If you are unfamiliar with the idea of Mother Culture, the concept is explained in this article at AmblesideOnline’s Parent’s Review Archives.)
But Michael’s imagination had always been dependent upon exterior bounty, and cut off from that he had been cut off from his country too.’
The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge
Goudge’s character, Michael Stone, has an aura of mystery about him as well as a great affection for Don Quixote.
It’s been said that the inspiration for Miguel Cervantes’ character, Don Quixote, came to him while he was in prison and Michael believed that thinking of the great Cervantes and his suffering helped to keep him sane at times.
Cervantes had a great store of interior riches that he drew upon during his miserable and inhumane imprisonment by Ottoman pirates, whereas Michael was reliant upon external sources, and once they were removed, his imagination was unable to give him a place of rest; to take him to his country of escape. He did not have to power to create a sweet repose of mind, a pleasant place, because he had never made the effort to store up interior riches.
Last year I lost myself in one of the most inspirational autobiographies I’ve ever read: Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng, a woman, who in her early fifties, who was locked up in solitary confinement for six and a half years during the Cultural Revolution. During those years she drew upon her interior riches: Poetry and Psalms she had memorised; the intellectual culture of thinking and remembering she had practised throughout her life while she was still free; not to mention the physical disciplines she made herself undergo to keep her body from total deterioration while enduring the effects of starvation in prison.
Interior riches. We never know when we may be left without external resources to sustain our souls but what we have made a part of us can’t be taken away.
• Scripture memory
• Beautiful art work stored in the mind
• Intellectual & aesthetic culture
• The discipline of reading, thinking, & remembering
• Inspiring music
• Nature appreciation
Mother Culture: filling my soul with Interior Riches for the present, and to draw upon in the future.