Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking

With the death of Edith Schaeffer this week, I was reminded of The Hidden Art of Homemaking sitting on my bookshelves. It has been one of those books I've been thinking about reading for a while but never quite got to it. So I decided that I would start reading it and keep myself accountable by blogging about it.

Before I begin writing about the first chapter, I wanted to go back and think about the influences in my life on my view of homemaking. My first and primary influence has been my mom. I cannot imagine viewing my role at home without thinking about her example to me. She was always home and took pride in her role at home. Even now, she doesn't work outside the home in a paid position but she has continued to model the role of a wife and mother to her family, her friends and her church. On occasion, she has commented to me that she doesn't understand how anyone could be bored at home as there is always lots to do. Of course, that work also includes volunteering, whether in the church or the community.

I think that one of the ways that my parents most influenced me was in the area of hospitality. Our home was always open to people and my husband and I have benefited from this example. I hope to write more thoughts about hospitality in the coming weeks as well.

We didn't grow up with a lot of money or a fancy home but we did have a home where people were valued and Mom contributed much by her careful husbandry of the family income. I remember times when the month was longer than the money but we always ate well and had enough to be generous. This is the legacy that I hope to pass on to my family.

Another influence are a couple of women that I met at camp. They were both cooks at the camp. They served up delicious food but they also took time to make it and the surroundings look beautiful even for the younger campers! I often think of these women when I'm preparing for company.

Over the years, Edith Schaeffer has had a tremendous influence on families as well. The first chapter of The Hidden Art of Homemaking is titled "The First Artist".

I found her definition of art to be interesting and challenging. According to Mrs. Schaeffer, art involves creativity and originality. It satisfies and fulfills both the artist and the observer.

The most perfect artist is God. Creation is "a communication of the glory and greatness of the Artist. They communicate the wonder of who He is and what was in His mind as He created: not all of what was in His mind, but something truly of what was in His mind." (emphasis in original)

She goes on to list uses of art forms in creation. I had never thought of these before.

Sculpture - mountains, the human body
Movement in art - the wind, waves, trees, clouds
Light shows - lightning, the sun, northern lights
Sound - our ears have the capacity for appreciating sound; song
Landscape architect - God planted Eden, it didn't just appear. He planned it!
Man - created in the likeness of a Creator and we create because of God the Creator

Creativity involves choice. We always have to make a choice when we create - will it be this or that? We are limited by time, talent, resources, skill. God isn't limited at all.

Even though sin has spoiled the world, there is still "leftover beauty" in God's creation. We retain fragments of the perfection in creation.

Mrs. Schaeffer finishes the chapter by reflecting that those who love God and know Him should be more creative than those who don't know God. It should lead to more creativity, not less, because we know God the Creator.

"But, not forgetting the above, then what I call 'Hidden Art' should be more important to one who knows and admits that he made in God's image, than to those who do not."

I think this is a really important point. As Christians in the 20th century, we have tended to want to leave the creative arts to the world because we have been fearful of being influenced by the world. I think that Christians should be the most joyful artists precisely because we see what we reflect. And we also should celebrate all aspects of art whether or not they are created by a Christian because we recognize God's common grace to us all.


Cindy Rollins said...

I am so happy you have joined in the reading. Last week my son said, "Maybe you can go back to college when we all grow up and you are bored." I laughed and said, "I cannot ever remember being bored in my life." I have truly enjoyed my years at home and thank my husband for allowing me the privilege.

Cindy Rollins said...

Also I thought I invited you to the Pinterest board but I will check on it.

Mystie said...

Oh, please do focus on hospitality! That is an area my husband and I are trying to grow in and I'd love to hear wisdom and experience on the topic.

Adding touches of beauty to putting meals on the table is something that definitely doesn't come naturally to me. A few years ago I was helping an older woman set a small ladies' breakfast table and she casually pulled out a pitcher and set it out as if it was clear what it was for, but the juice was already out. I asked and she said, "Oh, for the milk." That was my first encounter with the idea that serving things from the carton they come in isn't "done." :)

Still, most of the time at our house roasted potatoes and the like go to the table on the cookie sheet straight from the oven.

hsmomino said...

What a sweet tribute to your mother. I agree - I cannot imagine being bored at home! Thank you for sharing - I look forward to more in the upcoming weeks and chapters of this inspiring book study.

GretchenJoanna said...

It's wonderful indeed to hear of how much you learned from your mother and other women, and for you to lovingly and thankfully remember them.

And Cindy, I am surprised that one of your sons could think you might be bored. Is that a guy thing, that they do not "get" how much fun we have? Because even my husband asked me what I would do when I was no longer homeschooling.

Linda said...

Juanita, how blessed you were to have a mom who exuded graciousness and hospitality. I pray I will be that kind of example to my own kids.

One thing I've been pondering is not only how to extend hospitality to others but also how to cultivate a gracious style in our everyday living. I think this is just the right book for inspiring us!