Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club: Created to Make Beauty

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Ordo Amoris Book Club: Edith Schaeffer’s Hidden Art of Homemaking, chapter 1: The First Artist

I will have been married for 12 years come July, so I suppose it’s been 10-11 years since I first read *The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I remember loving the first two chapters, being ready to be inspired, and then feeling deflated by the end. None of her practical application chapters resonated with me at that time, as a newlywed, newly-twenty-something. None of them seemed to fit. I already felt I was not a creative type, and though the first two chapters assured me that even I could be, I closed the book feeling like, no, not really, I was simply not cut out to be artistic or creative. I was apparently a dull, practical type, who found most of Edith’s examples silly, sappy, or strange.

I’ve stared at the title on my shelf many times since then, almost reaching for it to give it another chance. Everyone loves it. I had to be missing something. But the discouragement of “silly, sappy, or strange” kept coming back to mind and I pulled away again.

Two years ago I read Edith’s L’Abri on a friend’s recommendation and was mesmerized and challenged by her story. Perhaps now, as a newly-thirty-something, with a bit more understanding of the story behind this remarkable woman, I am better equipped to interpret her message in the spirit it was intended.

my backyardgrapes in the pasture

The meme for this chapter appears to be backyard views, and these are what I already had in my album. We live on an acre in the middle of town. The sprinkler picture is part of our backyard a year and a half ago and the other is of our newly planted grape row in our back half-acre “pasture.”

Created for creativity

cre·a·tive [kree-ey-tiv]

adjective

  1. having the quality or power of creating.
  2. resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative: creative writing.
  3. originative; productive.

Edith begins by laying a solid foundation: God is a creative, artistic, beauty-making Creator. He made us in His image. We, too, can be – and ought to be – creative and beauty-loving. Our love for beauty and for making should be grounded in daily communication with our own Creator and Savior.

How are we artistic?

art [ahrt]

noun

  1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
  2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection. See fine art, commercial art.
  3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
  4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
  5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.

Sometimes we use art narrowly as meaning things like painting or sculpture or other pursuits that few are very talented in. But, we can see in the dictionary definition, that art includes the production, the making, of anything “according to aesthetic principles” and “any field using the skills or techniques of art” – which Edith will demonstrate includes the field of homemaking, which is the field of living life together.

She says,

Art in various forms expresses and gives opportunity to others to share in, and respond to, things which would otherwise remain vague, empty yearnings. Art satisfies and filfils something in the person creating and in those responding.

So, art is communication, an aspect of making our little home communities beautiful and meaningful as well as useful. Perhaps if (or when) homemaking feels like an unfulfilling drudgery, we can turn to this idea and ask if we are focusing merely on utility or if we are living our life artfully. Making, transforming, and beautifying are acts whereby we image God, and thus they satisfy and fulfill much more than checking boxes on our to-do lists. Touches of art make the work transcend the temporal, momentary nature of our daily lives.

Art is touching our work with our personality, letting our work express a bit of ourselves. Just as God’s creation communicates about Himself, so our work communicates about us. An artful expression in our work is one where we touch it with love, beauty, and joy:

We may note here, in passing, the centrality of the element of pleasure, the importance of joy and response in the artistic realm that God created.

aes·thet·ic [es-thet-ik]

adjective
1. pertaining to a sense of the beautiful or to the philosophy of aesthetics.
2. of or pertaining to the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty; of or relating to the science of aesthetics.
3. having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
4. pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.

I am excited not only to reread this book with homemaking experience under my belt, but also to discuss it with the other participating ladies. I hope we can develop our own unique expressions not by adding more hobbies or activities to our lists, but by doing what we’re already doing with that touch of personality, of beauty, of abundance that will lead to more joy and satisfaction in our own little spheres.

I hope you’ll join this conversation, too, both in the comments here, at Cindy’s post, and also by visiting the other posts. Instead of a linky, there is a Pinterest board you can follow. Isn’t that the perfect venue for a discussion of Hidden Art?

6 Responses

  1. Sandy
    |

    “I hope we can develop our own unique expressions not by adding more hobbies or activities to our lists, but by doing what we’re already doing with that touch of personality, of beauty, of abundance that will lead to more joy and satisfaction in our own little spheres.”

    That’s exactly my hope. I loved the book but was overwhelmed by it when I read it many years ago. I am definitely NOT an artist (I have trouble drawing stick people), but I want to enhance my sense of beauty in everyday living.
    ~Sandy

  2. Cindy
    |

    “I hope we can develop our own unique expressions not by adding more hobbies or activities to our lists, but by doing what we’re already doing with that touch of personality, of beauty, of abundance that will lead to more joy and satisfaction in our own little spheres.”

    Amen, here too. I am getting ready to write a post on Edith’s famous saying, “If you want all or nothing you get nothing.”

    • Linda
      |

      Mystie, I loved those words too!

  3. Barbara H.
    |

    I’m so excited to be a part of this book club! I read this book maybe 30 years ago, and it was a great help to me. I would not have described myself as creative as I was growing up, but I have come to see that creativity can be expressed in different ways. In my post I linked to a story where Edith was making a meal for a tramp who came to the door, and made up a complete tray including a few flowers. I think it’s those extra little thoughtful touches that make such a difference.

  4. hsmominmo
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    “art is communication” — YES!
    I enjoy how you bring in word study and definition to map out the meaning of what we are reading. Words and their meanings = communication.
    All the world around us is a way The Creator communicates with us.
    I am looking each day for ways to communicate beauty to those around me, here in my home.
    Thank you for sharing today!

  5. Mary Kathryn
    |

    Like you, my first impression of the book was a bit of disappointment … only, I read the first 2 chapters and then quit b/c her writing style did not appeal to me. But now I’m going to give this book a second try. It seems to mean more to you this time around too :) I’m looking forward to seeing how homemaking can be not just creative, but artistic.