Have you ever been going about your day, minding your own business, when you were suddenly impacted with the significance of something you always took for granted, but never fully grasped before?
It happened to Charlotte Mason. She was looking at a piece of art, a flat medieval painting in a church that showed the Holy Spirit descending over a group of legendary saints and intellects, when she had an "aha!" moment. The concept that God is in all and over all suddenly struck her in all the fullness of what that means, and it had such an impact on her that she couldn't stop talking about it.
You see, those saints and intellects that the Holy Spirit was descending on were being depicted as receiving inspiration from God -- and they weren't all Christians! One of them became the father of geometry, another wrote the first grammar, another developed calculations for astronomy. God gave His good gifts through people who weren't even seeking Him! Good, godly inspired ideas can come from the most unlikely people. It's quite a surprising thing to realize -- a stunning discovery.
Charlotte Mason called it her Great Recognition, and it sometimes comes up in Charlotte Mason circles. It means we don't have to limit our source of information to Christians; just as God sends rain on the just and the unjust, he also gives knowledge and insights to sinners and unbelievers as well as His own people. Lots of people outside the Christian world have wonderful, virtuous truths to teach us, and we don't have to shy away from learning from them.
So now, when you hear that term -- the Great Recognition -- come up at your next Charlotte Mason support group meeting, you can nod astutely because you're in the know. ;-)
If you're curious about the picture that brought this awareness to Charlotte Mason, you can see it and read more about it here: