The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Those Holy Fields *

by the Rev. C.H. Chase
Volume 3, 1892/93, pgs. 285-291

Being Sunday Evening Thoughts for Our Children Concerning

                     "Those holy fields,
       Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
       Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed,
       For our advantage, to the bitter cross."--Henry IV

* [Having had the great happiness of a ride through the Holy Land, I write these short papers with the hope that they may make some dear children happier on Sunday evenings, and help them to picture more perfectly the scenes of Holy Scripture.]


       "The country of the Gadarenes." St. Mark v. 1.

Not many visitors to the Holy Land cross over the Lake, or Sea, of Galilee, to the further shore. Several of our party take a small boat and row to the other side, exactly opposite the town of Tiberias. Landing on the pebbly beach, the green slope is soon noticed, for here the hills shelve down almost to the water's edge. With little doubt this must be the spot where the swine, startled by the spirits of evil, ran down the precipice, and perished in the waters. After a short but rather steep walk, some caves are seen in the rocky sides of the hills. On closer inspection these turn out to be tombs--rock tombs. They are each divided into two chambers, an outer and an inner chamber. Here it was, in all probability, that the poor men possessed with the evil spirits had their dwelling--living in the outer chamber while the dead were laid in stone coffins hollowed out of the solid rock in the chamber within.

Near by are considerable ruins of an old city, one of those ten cities which, in our Lord's day, gave to this eastern shore a large population, where to-day there are only a few wandering Bedouins.

What a marvellous miracle was that of Jesus in driving out those spirits of evil. Not only must we believe His words, Who was "true and faithful," but we must "Believe Him for His very work's sake."

God our Father in Heaven is ever working miracles around us. The growing corn; the vine with its grapes; the sickness healed; the evil driven out of the heart; these are His works; and Jesus did but compress into a few moments what the Father does in weeks or months. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," He said. "The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do."

The miracles of Jesus. Let us illustrate them by a very simple object. You know what a wonderful thing an organ is (have you ever seen one taken to pieces?), what knowledge is needed of sound and mechanics to build one; yet, what use are these laws or the instrument itself, however perfect, without the presiding will of a musician who causes them to act? If a child comes to his father at the organ, and asks him to play, not a mournful tune, but a joyous one, and the father suddenly changes his key and tune at the request of the child, he does not break any laws by the change. So Jesus Christ, being God, at the request of poor sufferers worked miracles; and, without altering the laws by which His Father worked, or breaking those laws, He used His own will, and made those laws obey Him. How this should increase our reverence for Him, should it not?

At His bidding, spirits of evil, knowing Him, came out of those possessed. At His command, proud waves and storm-clouds ceased to rage, and all was calm. As then you read of all His wondrous works, say to yourself, "I believe, not only all His words that they are true, but all His works that they are faithful."

       "Here on this lake when rushed the sudden storm,
              And angry winds blew fiercely at their will,
       Christ rose majestic with commanding form,
              And to the tossing billows said 'Be still.'

       "Then at His word the waters were as glass,
              To catch the glories of the upper sphere,
       And mirror all the planets as they pass,
              And be a second heaven, all calm and clear."


       "Consider the lilies." St. Matthew vi. 28.

We leave the Lake very early in the morning. The air is clear and fresh as we ride forth. Skirting the town wall of Tiberias, we ascend the hill. As we do so, the sun rises and lights up the mountains on the further shore with a golden hue. It is a glorious scene; the white beach, the blue sea, the mist rolling away, and the town all silent. Peace, lovely peace, seems to reign supreme:

       "Fair lake whose sapphire waters have a shore,
              Holy as any in this Holy Land,
       'Twill be a sacred joy for evermore,
              That I have stood upon thy shell-strewn strand."

At last we arrive at a level place amid the hills; some sixty feet above this plain rise two peaks or horns. Here it was, probably, that our Lord spoke to the multitude of people which gathered round Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. "He went up into the mountain," St. Matthew tells us; and "He stood on the plain," says St. Luke. That is to say, He came down from the Horns of Hattin (as they are now called), and stood on this level place amid the mountains.

Here He spoke those wonderful Beatitudes. Here He gave that prayer which, I hope, we all use every day, and call our Lord's Prayer.

We notice one beautiful patch of flowers, which here grow plentifully all around. Is this just where He sat? The lake below Him, God's blue sky above Him; Safed, "the city set on a hill which cannot be hid," opposite Him; tired, weary crowds around Him, and the flowers gay, fresh, beautiful, under His feet.

"Consider the lilies," said Jesus. "Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

I open an album at my side--there it is, the bright scarlet flower I plucked on the very spot. It is safe, safe from winter's storms and summer heat, no wind can blow it to pieces now.

So you are cared for, guarded, watched over. You are put in the book of His remembrance. "If God clothe the grass of the field which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven," to form a kindling for the fire, will He not much more care for you?

Tell Him, then, everything. Trust Him in the little things. Is your lesson hard? don't cry over it, ask Him to help you. Is your brother unkind and quarrelsome? tell Him all about it. Is some plan upset because it is a wet day? don't be angry with the weather, your Father orders all.

Do you sometimes lie awake and trouble about the future, the going away from father and mother to school life? Leave all to Him who cares for flowers, and children too, and will guide all your ways.

       "And here grow lilies of the field,
              Nourished on dews, and sunshine and sweet air,
       Whose inner meanings were by Christ unsealed,
              And from them taught a loving Father's care.

       "At morn, amid those upland solitudes,
              Where all the people gathered round to hear,
       He spake those high and sweet beatitudes,
              God's benedictions for the listening ear."


       "They filled them up to the brim." St. John ii. 7.

What is this clean-looking village with seemingly two Christian churches? This is Kefr Kenna, the supposed Cana of Gospel story. Bright-eyed children run beside our horses, of course, calling out "Bachsheesh," "Backsheesh," which means, "give us some money," at the same time they make the sign of the cross, to tell us they are Christian children.

We soon reach the village wells, and as it is about noon, numbers of villagers, men, women, and children, have come with their water-jars to draw water. Is this the very spring from which the servants drew the water at the bidding of the Lord Jesus? I like to think so, and get off my horse to drink some of the water out of a tall red pitcher. We have but little faith in the tradition that the very water-jars used at the marriage feast are to be seen in one of the churches near at hand, so we do not go to see them, and content ourselves with lingering at the village well.

When Jesus turned that water into wine, He made that wine the very best, and plentiful for all.

Is not this how God is ever working, "enough and to spare?" It is so with the flowers. It is so with the water from the fountain. It is so with the fish in the sea. It is so in the insect world.

Everything He makes is very good, very bountiful.

See, then, the goodness of God, the greatness of God everywhere.

Before you go to sleep to-night, count up the things He has given you, which He might have withheld, make a list of them on paper, and then kneel down and tell Him how good He is for so loading you with His benefits. Here are a few which I have thought of for you; I am sure there are many, many more:

       My Mother
       My Father
       My Aunties
       My Uncles
       My Brothers
       My Sisters
       My Clean, nice bed
       My Warm fire
       My Books
       My Toys
       My Garden
       My Pony
       My Pictures
       My Food
       My Money in the savings bank
       My Health
       My Sleep
       My Piano
       My Flowers
       My Canary.

Many of these, those poor children of Cana know nothing about; but, no doubt, they have other things which make them quite as happy.

       "Yes, God is good; in earth and sky.
              From ocean-depths and spreading wood,
       Ten thousand voices seem to cry,
              God made us all, and God is good!

       "For all Thy gifts we bless thee, Lord,
              But chiefly for our heavenly food;
       Thy pardoning grace, Thy quickening word,
              These prompt our song that God is good."


       "He shall be called a Nazarene." St. Matthew ii. 23.

       "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" St. John i. 26.

After parting with the children of Cana, a ride of some two hours brings us to a steep hill; whence we catch sight of Carmel on our right, with the blue Mediterranean. Then as we reach the top of the hill, there, below us, and on the slope of the hill opposite, lies Nazareth, the home of Jesus from his childhood upwards.

Beautiful for situation it certainly is, and very clean and well cared for does it look compared with other Eastern villages.

The people, some 4000 in number, are mostly Christians, and there are several churches, schools, and monasteries, so these large buildings give it a town-like look. We are glad to rest under the shade of some olive trees and to watch the mules "unlade their burdens, and the servants unpack tents and furniture. In half an hour from the time the first mule reached our camping ground, all is ready for us in our tents, which have now become quite home-like. Soon many of the villagers come round to us and ask us to buy something as a remembrance of Nazareth. One boy has little plaster models of water jars, and the upper and nether millstone. Another has cards with dried flowers from the hillsides and valleys round. We start as soon as it is cool enough to wander round the village. We see one large stone, oh, so worn, and I picture to myself the Holy Child in His games of play, running and jumping from the top of that large boulder, as any of you would love to do. For was He not very happy in those boyish days, in His play with the children of Nazareth?

"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Such was a proverb among the Jews. That little village among the hills was despised and looked down upon. Yet, He came forth from it, Who is the greatest among men.

Jesus Christ is not the only one who has come forth from a quiet village to do noble work.

"Ploughmen, shepherds, housemaids, nurse-girls, crowd the glorious pages of the history of the blessed ones whom the Church loves to honour." There is a grand church in Sussex which honours as its founder a shepherd-lad, who, when his poor mother was paralysed and could not work, made a two-wheeled chair, and pushing her from town to town, sold his goods to support them both.

"There is a little blue flower called Speedwell, or Veronica, named after a saintly maid-of-all-work." [Rev. S. Baring-Gould.]

Let not one child say, "I am in a humble home far away in a village street, I can never be great." If you are not to be great, you can at least be good and do good, and "Kind hearts are more than coronets."

Who knows, but if you are good and do good, that some day the village street and the house where you were born may not be visited by thousands, and tens of thousands, because you, too, have been entered on the roll of the heroes, whom all good men love to honour.

       "A city guilded by the mountains steep,
              Which open like the petals of a rose
              Which to the summer all its beauty shows,
       Down to its crimson heart that lies so deep.
       'Midst the sweet leaves which rise around to keep
              And safely guard it from approach of foes--
              So these green hills fair Nazareth enclose,
       And fold it as a shepherd folds his sheep.

       "But 'tis not beauty that this town endears,
              This rather--Christ dwelt here from Boy to Man;
       That here he lived unknown for thirty years,
              Repressed Himself, as only the greatest can,
              And as the weeks and months in silence ran,
       Prepared Himself for pain, and blood, and tears."

Proofread by LNL, Sept. 2023