The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. Albert Einstein Children are born to wonder, to explore, pry, to ask, to pretend, to believe, to trust, to celebrate, to giggle, to laugh, to create, to love. When I pictured my children's souls, I pictured them as a treasure chest to fill with jewels of beauty, truth and wisdom and experiences that would make their hearts, souls and minds so rich, that they would have a wealth of treasures to draw from the rest of their lives. A rich soul must be filled intentionally with elegant masterpieces of creation, magnificent compositions of music, alluring feasts, gentle touch, exquisite art, masterpieces of thought, spiritual inspiration. Then from the richness invested there, fruit will come forth.
Our homes can become that place of creativity, where a meal can become a candle-lit half-hour that creates life-changing conversation, as in the above tea time I made for Joy a couple of weeks ago when we had been far too busy and were quite exhausted. (I also used to, and still do make these hidden moments of civilized conversations with my boys, and they liked it just as much. I just considered what food or way of talking them would like, and served them accordingly.) Our souls needed rest and refreshment. It was a simple meal from what was in the fridge, but with candles, and roses I had bought at Sam's, it became a celebration of our friendship. I even used to do such things in a smaller way when my children were babes.
When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. Mohandis Gandi
This morning, I arose early to spend time with the Lord, and I asked Him to speak to my heart and I poured out my heart with requests and faith and worship. As I was sitting quietly, alone in the darkened room with flickering candle light as my companion, my eyes were drawn to the window and vibrant pinks, purples, deep blues were strewn across the pallet of the early morning sky. The Lord indeed spoke to me and the heavens were declaring His artistry and giving peace to my soul. Beauty draws us to the creator's glory and fills our hearts with wonder and worship, and puts us in our right place.
When we love our children well, we will paint the exquisite color of His reality in the way we express life art throughout our homes, so that our children can begin to believe that for them, our home is the best place to be. I have lived in tiny, aged 900 square foot homes that leaked water down the sides of the wall, (Vienna); a small but efficient 4th floor walk-up apartment that looked over industrial towers of smoke, (Poland), and a sprawling, charming cottage with views of land, (Tennessee). It does not matter what the size or shape of a home, it is the artist-creator ceo of the home that brings a place to life.
Friday mornings are the time I take Joy out to breakfast each week, to validate our friendship, to talk about all bubbling up in our souls from a week of be fully alive and to have the opportunity to speak into her soul, even as a young adult. But these moments of pouring in, started when she was small, in the confines and moments of our many homes of 17 moves!
As we awakened, she and I sat on her bed talking about CK Chesterton's Orthodoxy book and funny incidents in the book, as he is a hysterical man. (For those of you who don't know him, he was a British Christian Author, whose book Orthodoxy is a classic, challenging Christian book on faith, much like Mere Christianity.)
On our way to the small, French cafe this morning, where they have the best chocolate croissants and lattes, we listened and sang to Rich Mullen's "Peace I leave to you," and "Hold Me Jesus" which deeply ministered to my soul--what an artist he was before he was killed in a car accident. He is a friend of our family because the kids grew up with his songs playing through hours of driving in the mountains.
While munching on our warm croissants, Joy told me the story of C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" and how much it really changed her perspective of suffering this life.
Then, on the drive back home, we sang to Phantom of the Opera at the top of our lungs, because we had fallen in love with the music when we saw the play together last year. The songs are breath-taking-ly beautiful! My boys like Les Miserable, and we all used to wash dishes to Josh Groben, which I would play loudly as the kids were cleaning. (Also, some up-beat Christian music was a favorite to keep them on track!)
These rich tastes of life came from years of living fully, engaged in the best I could find. I was not educated in these areas until I began to make it my goal to become familiar with some of the best in music, art and literature as a portion of what I would put into my children's souls. I became civilized and educated as I sought to civilize and educate them.
I remember in the Anne of Green Gables movie, there is a part when she is visiting with a wealthy Aunt of her best friend, Diana, in the Charlottetown, one of the larger cities of Prince Edward Island. Anne had just made a comment to the Aunt that even though she was having fun in the big city, she preferred her small town. Then a soloist sang an aria from Opera that thrilled her soul. After she heard the song, Anne remarked, "I will never be the same again."
And so it is when we open our children's souls to fine tastes of the beauty of life. The picture of Christians as those who can compose the finest music (The Messiah, or Bach's worship music), the greatest literature, (C.S. Lewis and others), live the best stories, (Hudson Taylor opening China), be the best testimony, (Eric Liddel in Chariots of Fire or Wilberforce in the movie about his life), follow the best heroes by listening to Bonhoeffer's history in the Focus on the Family radio drama), then they develop their tastes all the best and most beautiful in life and become what their own souls have been fed.
Consequently, each of us has the freedom to live within our own means and by our own personalities and preferences. Creativity must not necessarily be extravagant or demanding. But the passing on of beauty and love and excellence as we see fit, cultivates in them a vigor and love for life that will last them throughout their lives. Investing in their souls, with the art of God, speaks to them deeply and satisfies them surely and assures them of the abiding love of a civilized mother.