I was raised to loathe material things. The spiritual world is spiritual, the material world is material. We are not at all our bodies. The body is just a cage that our soul is trapped inside of. I am no more this person than I was my previous body from my previous life. A strict dichotomy between things of this world (bad) and things of the beyond (good). This is what I was not.
Really it was the reincarnation thing that allowed that entire philosophy to fall apart. I wrote about it more a couple of years ago right here if you're in the mood.
But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about learning to appreciate beauty. Not just the God-created beauty of a child's smile or a gorgeous sunrise, but the beauty I can create myself. The beauty you can create. The beauty that can lift our spirits, give a foretaste of heaven, and make the drudgery that is inescapable in this fallen world more manageable.
Did you hear that reading on Sunday?
"...whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence,
and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Let me confess that until three days ago I would hear "true, honorable, just, pure...." and then basically tune the rest out. But this time it was different. This time it was as if there was complete silence- in my mind, from my children, amidst the congregation- and what I heard was "lovely, gracious, any excellence...."
Behavior and my words can be lovely and gracious, to be sure. But our surroundings can be so as well. And we are to think about these things. Not just imagine how nice it will be to have some loveliness somewhere at some point, but to really think about all of these. Try to make them a part of our lives, a part of our children's lives.
putting on concealer and getting dressed even if I'll "only be at home" so that my children will see that I value the time I spend with them at least as much as I value the time spent at the post office? Well, I feel like I'm ready to stop feeling guilty about wanting our house to be lovely too.
Soon I'd like to write an entire post on this book, but until I can, I want to mention a tiny part of A Mother's Rule of Life in which she talks about trying to figure out what God expected of her as a mother. She realized that if she was supposed to love and care for her children in the same way that God loves and cares for us, then she needed to try to do the things He did. When he created Adam and Eve, he didn't put them in a dank prison cell. No, he put them in Eden. He gave them a literal paradise.
Of course there are seasons of life. Times of turmoil. Times of upheaval. We do still live in a fallen world after all. But I have to ask myself this - am I striving to be gracious and to create loveliness to the best of my ability given our state in life? If excellence is possible, do I welcome that possibility? Do I balance gracious in speech with lovely in presentation? Often I scrap one for the other, but I know that both are good and worthy of my energy.
I can tell you that I should do all of these because the mood in our home and the energy of our kids is markedly more pleasant when I do. But until now I hadn't defined it. I hadn't said "here is a goal of my vocation." But now I have, and it feels right.
p.s. God-incidentally, Bonnie of A Knotted Life is hosting a sort of blog post carnival called Autumn in the Home right this very second. If you're looking for some inspiration in this regard, go see. Her post and all the other participants are such a joy. And that's something the world definitely needs more of.
p.p.s. I am not one of the featured blogs. I'm just telling you about it because I'm so digging the idea of actually making a home. Home MAKING. Homemaking.