Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hidden Art: Chapter Two

Chapter Two: What Is Hidden Art? 
(Cindy at Ordo Amoris is hosting this book study.)
 Art needs to come out of hiding.

Schaeffer says art is hidden because it's found in the small parts of life, in the mundane, if you will. We're so familiar with it we don't think it's art at all. "Every person ... has some talent which is unfulfilled in some 'hidden area' of his being ..." (31).

I have a weird relationship with Schaeffer's book. I know my mother loved this book, and I got the impression many years ago that it was somewhat life-altering for her. My mother loves art, loves artists, and loves beauty. But she's not an artist herself; she doesn't paint, knit, crochet, sew, play an instrument, or do any of the usual artistic things. She's had a lovely voice in years past. But generally speaking, no one would consider her an artist.

Except Edith Schaeffer, that is.

My mother has stayed home, making a home, all her married life. She said recently that although her friends often have larger, more expensive homes than hers, she knows of no other home she'd rather be in. It's full of old furniture, some of it broken. Used rugs she bought at thrift stores. Rusted this and dented that. But she loves it all. And she has spent a lifetime turning her home into a beautiful, welcoming, warm place. Everyone feels it who comes there.

My mother has the gift of hospitality, she's an excellent cook, and she's a genius at flower arranging.
My parents always welcome friends and strangers in their front door.
My mother's hands have made hundreds of loaves of wheat bread.
This is a little arrangement she put together quickly for a tea honoring Anna at a friend's home.

I think my mother took Edith Schaeffer's words to heart and practiced them for decades. I wonder -- did she read the book, look around her, and ask: "What can I do to make life beautiful for those who come here?" She gardened, and then gardened more. She grew flowers and arranged them for her home, and then for church. Beauty became for her a regular discipline, a daily evaluation of how to make her home pleasant.

Schaeffer: "We should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, response to what has been created for our appreciation." And, "A Christian should show in some practical area ... a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than in a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness" (32, 33).

My mother has a deep, abiding aversion to ugliness in all forms. She abhors the ugliness of sin and debauchery in culture. She's not a snob, and she's seen her share of darkness. But she chooses the beautiful, always. I think Schaeffer is saying that, in choosing to love beauty, we are being creative -- just the choice is a creative act. It is a constant battle, in our day, to choose beauty, to choose goodness. The pull is ever downward to degradation, to slovenliness. My mother can take a broken tea cup and make a treasure. She can take a few weeds and wildflowers and make a display. She can take other women's cast-offs and make an outfit. All these are redemptive acts. Having expensive, flashy possessions is not really creative. Taking something simple, mundane, common -- and finding beauty in it? That's creative. That's my mother.


  1. What a wonderful post and tribute to your mom!! She sounds like a beautiful (and artistic) woman. I hope I can become more like her as I read through this book.

  2. My thoughts exactly:

    What a lovely testimony ~

    I particularly like what you said here:

    I think Schaeffer is saying that, in choosing to love beauty, we are being creative -- just the choice is a creative act.

    The challenge is to define beauty the way God does and

    Your mother is beautiful!

  3. This post really spoke to me. Thank you for sharing the quotes from the book that had spoken to me, but I had forgotten since last night! :) I loved reading about your mother and her choice to live creatively right where she is everyday. The beauty of her life is an inspiration to us all, especially now that you have highlighted it here!

  4. Oh, this is lovely. What a beautiful illustration-in-action of what could be just more words on paper.

  5. I love the photo of your parents at the door.
    Your words are so honoring of your mama and I know that every word is true.

  6. Oh, thank you, MK, for giving honor to your mother and for your own demonstration of seeing the beauty in the everyday or mundane - because what is more taken for granted than a mother? Yet you have seen the beauty and creativity in her. Bless you.

  7. First, the flower arrangement is absolutely gorgeous. Your mother is an inspiration!

  8. What a sweet picture of your parents and such a lovely tribute to your beautiful mother. The flower arrangement IS gorgeous!!! Wow. You have been blessed.

  9. This is one of the loveliest tributes to a mom I've read. What a truly beautiful role model you've had. She reminds me of the Proverbs 31 mother, whose
    "children rise up and call her blessed."

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  10. Beautiful mother, beautiful tribute, beautiful lessons...what an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing your mother's story!

  11. "she has spent a lifetime turning her home into a beautiful, welcoming, warm place. Everyone feels it who comes there." I can testify to the truth of this. Her home is a peaceful, comfortable place, beautiful to the core.

  12. You should print that out and give your mother a copy for Mother's Day. She would treasure your words, I'm sure.

  13. That's a really great idea, Sherry! Thanks, I'll do that :)

  14. after reading this, i adore your mom.
    and i so appreciate how your eyes see her...
    what a special, special love.

    thank you so much for sharing... and so close to mother's day!! did you share your post with her? i bet she'd treasure it! maybe you should frame it for her!! ;)


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