Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine's Day Advice from Mr. Penn

I just finished reading William Penn’s letter to his wife and children. He wrote it as his instructions to them in case something might happen to him on his first journey to Pennsylvania.

Incredible! What a loving husband and father he was! So much of what he says still is applicable today. Those of you who are writing Valentines for your wives could take some lessons from him.

Look at what he says first to his wife, “My love, which neither sea nor land nor death itself can extinguish or lesson toward you…” And this is his ending, “Yours, as God pleases, in that which no waters can quench, no time forget, nor distance wear away, but remains forever.” Lesson One: Husbands, talk lovingly and poetically to your wives. Find a book of poetry if you can’t make up your own. We love that stuff.

Lesson Two, praise your wives to their faces and to others. Mr. Penn praises Mrs. Penn directly and to their children. To her he says that she is the joy of his life. To his children he said, “your dear mother, a woman whose virtue and good name is an honor to you.” After that, he goes on for a full paragraph about her good qualities.

Lesson Three, when Mr. Penn instructs Mrs. Penn, he does it kindly. I do believe she must have been a very kind person who others took advantage of. Listen to this that Mr. Penn said to her, “Guard against encroaching friendships. Keep them at arm’s length; for it is giving away our power; yes, and self too, into the possession of another; and that which might seem engaging in the beginning may prove a yoke and burden too hard and heavy in the end.” Leave the instructing stuff off of your Valentine cards but remember this advice it for the next day.

And last of all, Lesson Four, Mr. Penn didn’t expect Mrs. Penn to do all the instructing of the children. He accepted his responsibility of training and disciplining the children by also writing directly to them. He tells the children to be obedient to their dear mother and uses the last half of his letter instructing them for the moment and for the future. Remember, those of you with children, probably the best Valentine’s gift you can give your wife is to sometimes give up your own pursuits to help with the children.

I did not expect to see romance when I started to study William Penn this morning. How wonderfully inspiring! Where are my candles? Maybe a special candlelight dinner is in order.

Here is the site I was reading for those of you who are interested in reading more about Mr. Penn’s wisdom: