I was recently inspired by my reading of The Living Page and considerations of Desiring the Kingdom to pick up again The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. This is one of my favorite books – one that I have dipped in and out of several times in recent years. It really is a lovely book that encourages us to bring beauty into our ordinary, to express ourselves creatively and in that way reflect God’s image to the world – and to do it NOW, with the time and talents and resources we have TODAY. The ‘practices’ she describes are meant to help us imagine and attend and communicate and live in community together. It struck me that Charlotte Mason would have heartily approved of this book – education is an atmosphere, after all. (But then perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to see glimpses of CM here – after all it was Edith’s daughter Susan who gave us For the Children’s Sake which is the book that brought Charlotte Mason’s ideas back to the modern world.)
A couple of thoughts I found particularly encouraging:
“People so often look with longing into a daydream future, while ignoring the importance of the present. We are all in danger of thinking ‘someday I shall have the courage to start another life which will develop the talent and express the fact of being a creative creature.’” (p. 33)
"There is a place for the conscious sacrifice of the expression of a talent, asking God to show His will for the use of our lives in anyway He plans - rather than insisting that it must be fulfilled in particular ways. It is a turning from or giving up - with complete trust that God really is love, and all wise, and would not waste the life of any one of His children...Whether in music, or other things, one never knows what surprisingly satisfying things God has in His plan for the developed talent which is literally 'given' to Him to use or to lay aside." (p.42-3)
“If the one who cooks is the wife in the family, her attitude toward the marriage as a whole should be able to think of it as a career. Being challenged by what a difference her cooking and her way of serving is going to make in the family life gives a woman an opportunity to approach this with the feeling of painting a picture or writing a symphony. To blend together a family group, to help human beings of five, ten, fifteen, and sixty years of age to live in communication with each other and to develop into a ‘family unit’ with constantly growing appreciation of each other and of the ‘unit’ by really working at it, in many different areas, but among others in the area of food preparation is to do that which surely can compare with blending oils in a painting or writing notes for a symphony. The cook in the home has opportunity to be doing something very real in the area of making good human relationships.” (p.124-5)
~Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
I do have dreams of things that I would like to do - dreams that I don't see as possible to be fulfilled in our current life situation. Sometimes this is discouraging - and discouragement clouds everything. I am reminded here to let go of those dreams and use my talents and interests and skills to enrich the life that have today, in my present circumstances, rather than dreaming of what may or may not be sometime off in the future. I am reminded that the "little" things that I can do today are meaningful and can make a difference. And who knows how He will work? He has good plans to grow me and shape me and use me. My task is to be faithful, one step at a time.
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