I watched most of the Public Broadcasting mini-series about the National Parks this past week. I especially wanted to see the first two parts of the series where they talked a lot about John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt.
I had heard that Muir came from a Christian background which affected his entire life. How interesting that it was the beauty of nature which renewed the spiritual side of his life after being raised by a very harsh "Christian" minister father.
It reminded me a little of a family which had a very strong impact on my husband's Christian walk. Like his parents, they were devout Lutherans, unlike his parents... there was not the critical environment in the house. The family showed their worship in love, laughter, and creativity. They were always working on some type of fabric art and the mother's beautiful designs hang not only in their home... but in their church.
It seems to be the first time he associated Christianity, beauty, and a joyful Christian home. His mother was an excellent cook and their house was always neat and clean. The paint was fresh and the furniture quite pretty... some of it now adds beauty to my own home. But the atmosphere of the home was not one of worship and creativity.
While Bible passages were read before dinner each night, critical words which had been spoken through the day did not leave an environment to enjoy the food of the Word or at times, the delicious food which was set before them.
As you can tell if you have read Coffee Tea Books and Me for very long, I believe in Beauty. As I first learned from the Schaeffer's, we are created in the image of a Creator. We were originally placed in a garden of Paradise surrounded by perfection... plants, flowers, trees, vegetables, herbs, and lots and lots of animals.
I believe what Muir found in the beauty of California wilderness and my husband in the humble home of a large family was this... the attitude in which we approach anything... our religion, our home, our creativity, our cooking, our sewing, our Bible reading, our meals we serve, our garden, our reading, and most of all... our family... it is that which makes all the difference.
I only met the family my husband talks about with such fondness a couple of times in the very, very early years of our marriage. The image is rather fuzzy but what I can recall is a dining room table covered with fabric and felt as a special wall hanging was being put together for an upcoming church holiday. I remember a warm, loving mother and the laughter of teenagers. I was instantly drawn into their world for the short time we visited their home in an old neighborhood of his hometown.
One can make beauty in the home, talk about their faith, provide healthy and delicious meals... and turn away those who live with them just by the critical spirit in which all is given and provided. It is especially hard for those who were raised in a critical home not to default to a critical spirit themselves (as my husband has found all of his life). I find myself speaking harsh words when I am tired and cranky, which is common to most of us.
I want to be more like the Christian mother who influenced my husband so much in his early twenties... bringing life and beauty and joy not only with the creative works of my hands... but by what words I speak into their life.
That creative mother would never think of herself as a missionary in the kitchen and with a needle... inspiring her children and one young man who became a part of their world for such a short time in his life... and who continued to minister through her home for decades.
Creativity... Beauty... Hospitality... Kindness... a humble home... how much they profited the Kingdom of God.