I'm sitting here sipping my hoarded Candy Cane Lane tea (Celestial Seasonings). Of course, I am willing to share with you. :)
As you have probably guessed by now, I am a word person. I love the sounds of words both old and new. I love words in old books and words on pages so crisp, you think you can hear them as you turn pages in a bookstore. Words bring me peace and excitement, joy and fear (ever read a great mystery?), frustration as well as solutions... all because of the ability to decipher some lines, scrolls, and dots.
However, being a very visual type person, I also find beautiful "works of art" (prints, paintings, gorgeous calenders, painted porcelain, pictures of loved ones, artwork made with fabric or paper) can bring peace and serenity.
I can't afford the really really expensive art but I do have some "good prints" here and there (as the lovely one hanging in my kitchen a few posts below, three prints in one frame titled Ask, Knock, Seek). When we lived in a much larger house, "good prints" were purchased during less lean years and Christmas and Birthday money (and gift certificates) were often the means of adding to our "art".
Many of my favorite paintings and prints were actually quite inexpensive, purchased at garage sales and Goodwill. My only original oil painting (gorgeous roses) was still on the rolling cart at Goodwill one day, it hadn't been placed on the rack to sell. It never made it to that rack, either. :) Christopher has an original oil painting in his room, also picked out at a thrift store (by him). He not only loves the picture but the unusual frame.
Another favorite is simply a calendar page that was taped to the back of a mat and placed in a very lovely frame. Both the frame and the mat came about from thrifting. One cannot tell it was originally a calendar page. I have friends who have the prettiest pictures framed in their dining area. It turns out they are also from a calendar, I'd never have guessed. They look like expensive Asian prints.
I believe all of us tend to be influenced by what surrounds us. I noticed after helping Christopher clean and organize his room, he now spends a great deal more time there. It is now a place that brings peace since the clutter is gone. What remains is all that is very "Christopher"... favorite paintings/prints, the books on his shelves, all the electrical "stuff", his games, his collection of Asian collectibles (from thrifting with Mom and Stephanie since he was a tiny guy), and his beloved computer. He learned much about the affect of beautiful art when visiting an art gallery with family friends one evening. There was one painting there which he still talks about (left behind due its' $5,000 price tag).
My kitchen is full of bright colors, the yellows, creams, reds, deep greens, dark blues... colors that bring excitement and energy (and frankly...hunger!). There was already a built in cork board, which is now covered by favorite pictures, cards received, and fun inspirational sayings. Throughout the kitchen are photos of my husband and kids, my mom and dad, and now on the front of my refrigerator... my very, very missed furry best friend. I want to be able to look around in this, my home "office" (aka: kitchen), and be able to see something which inspires or brings me warmth.
I have always felt the need to be surrounded by great art, whether a print of a Master or my five year old. (Both can make me smile.) However, it was a story I read many years ago in a magazine that helped me understand why this was true. I believe it was from the now gone Virtue magazine (I could spent hours with Virtue and Victoria and make it a weekend getaway).
As the story goes, a woman visits her friend whom she knows is going through a difficult and frazzled time. Not to mention she has quite a large family. As the visit goes on, she asks her friend what is the secret to her serenity (aside from a walk with God). Her friend takes her to the attic where she is able to get away by herself to ponder and she is drawn to a large piece of artwork.
I don't remember that it was ever described in detail but as the friend stands in front of it, she is also filled with peace. I know there were many flowers and a beautiful nature scene which made one feel they were back in Eden. Her friend told her she would get away for a few minutes and pray, soaking in the peace the artwork brought her.
I told Christopher this story a couple years ago as he wondered why he enjoyed looking at one particular print we own. It was a print we purchased from the artist at an art fair in our Detroit suburb, a painting of a house on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. (It hung in his room at the time and is now only in the family room because the colors work better there.)
I reminded him it probably brought back the many days we spent on the shore of Lake Michigan, during a very long and bleak trial in our life. It was one area where we could find serenity and beauty. We often took a blanket to place on the sand and watch the waves near us and the boats in the distance. This was "Science" in our homeschool that year, learning about the ecosystem of the Lake and its' surroundings.
We were created in a Garden and since then, our souls long for Beauty. How amazing to live in a time when works of art can be owned by average households. Of course, I am also surrounded by teacups and saucers, plates on walls and plates on tables, wedding photos, baby photos, pictures taken at special events, pictures of loved ones (human and with fur) that are no longer among us. Beauty, nevertheless.
I am one of those people who enjoy things on walls. My husband always laughed at me until I let him have the real office (the smallest of the three bedrooms) to be all his, except for the computer which we share. He has done the same and he no longer laughs (much). Sometimes I think he has MORE on the walls than I do.
As I was pondering what I'd write about today, I remembered houses I have visited that had no beauty. They were truly places of darkness and shadows where peace was hard to find. Often there was old food on dirty plates, floors that needed sweeping, clothes piled in corners, paper on the floors, windows so filthy they filtered light from arriving... no pretty pictures.
No hot toast with jelly and juice in tea cups waiting for children. No picture books set aside to be read before snuggling down to sleep. I can't recall ever seeing the latest Masterpiece of Crayola "painted" by a child in a place of honor. Darkness... a vacuum of all things Beautiful.
When I am gone, I want my legacy to be faith, hope, and beauty. None cost us a lot of money. Actually, searching for beauty on a budget makes life a treasure hunt that can bring great joy. I hope this week you will search out the beautiful in your life. Look for treasures in unexpected places as well as the beautiful right before our eyes.
There is none so beautiful as the Lord, Himself. For it is life in Him that causes us to know all things beautiful. As for my home, I will enjoy that which already surrounds me, light some scented candles, perhaps spend some time looking at pictures of loved ones, as well as purchasing some fresh flowers at the Farmer's Market.
If nothing else, look at a picture of someone you love. Truly a face of beauty. :)