- Convivial Contribution #1: Created to Make Beauty
In the second chapter, Mrs. Schaeffer defines her term “hidden art”:
I would define ‘Hidden Art’ as the art which is found in the minor areas of life.
We don’t have to be great artists or study great artists to grow in creativity and artistic expression. Mrs. Schaeffer wants to encourage us not to pursue the fine arts, necessarily, but to live in a way that places value on beauty.
One of the things I loved in this chapter was how she puts it in terms of growing rather than arriving or completing. It doesn’t matter where we are now in taste or ability or where we should be or where we have been or where we will be. What matters is whether or not we are growing, developing, cultivating creativity in the way we are living our current, real-life lives.
Instead of discounting our present duties as chains keeping us down and out of the realm of art, we can instead express art in our daily, messy, full lives. Then, instead of feeling shackled, we might just find that we can come fully alive right in the midst of a busy household.
I feel it may be helpful to consider some of the possibilities all of us have of really living artistically, but which are often ignored. We are all in danger of thinking, “Some day I will be fulfilled. Some day I shall have the courage to start another life which will develop my talent,” without ever considering the very practical use of that talent today in a way which will enrich other people’s lives, develop the talent, and express the fact of being a creative creature.
This also reminded me of a chapter in Rachel Jankovic’s book Fit to Burst, where she develops a similar thought. She got this idea that she wanted to be a mom who made biscuits, piping hot, fresh from the oven, buttery and flaky. But of course making biscuits is messy, one more thing to do, and an easy thing to postpone. However, after postponing and postponing, she suddenly realized that now is her children’s childhood. If she wants to make biscuits for them during their growing up years, that was actually right now and she couldn’t just keep putting it off for a more convenient day. A more convenient day simply doesn’t arrive in the midst of life with littles, and in a large family those oldest ones aren’t going to be little at all when the littlest are [fill-in-the-blank: sleeping through the night, potty trained, able to occupy themselves and stay out of mischief, etc.].
Biscuits might seem like a trivial, silly sort of example, but that’s the sort of simple “hidden art” Mrs. Schaeffer is talking about here. Just something little and lovely that communicates love and attention and beauty.
Perhaps it has something to do with my oldest nearing 10, but suddenly what seemed like an impossible eternity of childrearing now has the potential to be half over for nearly half my children (at least I’m at the very beginning with one!). I am not the mom of all littles anymore. I am the middle-stage mom with a spread (cough, in more ways than one). I’ve actually been homeschooling for 5 years now, though it feels that I am still researching before I begin. The days are long but the years are short, they say, and I do remember long days. Now even the days seem short. Exhausting, yes, but also too short.
All my hopes for the sort of atmosphere my children’s home life will have need to get some traction now, not continue to be perfected and refined in my head.
P.S. Can my hidden art be that I make beautiful babies?