Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cultivating Beauty in Home and Heart {Guest Post}

In a world that craves the true, the good, and the beautiful, is a joy to host the third Why Make Beatiful Things series here at Look to Him and Be Radiant. You can read the original post with my thoughts on beauty here and read all the guest posts in the previous series here. Today I have the honor of sharing the wise words of Rosie Hill from A Blog for My Mom on cultivating beauty in her home. We'll be featuring guest posts all week, and a huge giveaway of beautiful things on Friday, so make sure you check back!

"Mom," my 7-year-old started, "Mom, I just think food tastes better when it looks really pretty. Like, if you had cupcakes and they didn't have any sprinkles or icing, they really wouldn't look like they would taste very good!"

She carefully arranged slices of mozzarella, laying pieces of fresh basil on each slice as she delicately layered them over one another. The masterpiece complete, she begged me NOT to serve until everyone in the family had gotten a chance to admire her handiwork.

My children, from the toddler to the (self-proclaimed) tween (he's only almost-9), bring me scraggly bouquets of wildflowers, collected from our land. They run outside before my husband starts mowing the lawn, gathering whatever wild clover and ox-eye daisies they can find before the mower reduces them to nothing. Every surface in our house boasts a bouquet, sometimes just long grasses that somebody thought were beautiful.

And I've become blind to this everyday beauty without them to open my eyes.

I'd like to say that we've raised our children to appreciate beauty, but I don't think we've had anything to do with it. I think that any child seeing a flower, an interesting bug, a majestic tree, is so enchanted by these new experiences that he or she can't contain the joy that such beauty evokes. It bubbles over and must be shared. The parents are only the most obvious recipients.

So while I don't think I caused this intense interest in natural beauty, I do what I can to cultivate it. At our house, that means letting each child have his or her own little garden plot. My 3-year-old very carefully pulled up dandelions and "planted" them in his garden, along with feathers he gathered from the chickens. When he realized those weren't growing, he asked for a tomato seedling and a marigold seedling. Not a day (or hour, or sometimes minute) goes by that he doesn't ask me to check on his "darden" with him, proclaiming that it's looking "dood." I may sneak in there to weed and thin the zinnias he planted too close together, but it's his special place!

Sometimes the cultivation of beauty means that we end up with a lot of beautiful trash in our house. A ragged blue jay feather, once brilliant, finds its way to the bottom of a drawer along with broken seashells, "pressed" flowers that never got fully pressed, sticks that could someday be used for an important, now forgotten purpose... So we weed through the sentimental treasures and try to let each child have a box or a bag indoors where they can keep all those special ribbons, fancy orphaned buttons, sequins they picked up at the playground, interesting rocks, acorn caps, etc. They bring out their "treasures" when friends visit, oohing and aahing and gifting their very favorite pieces of trash for their friends to take home and add to their treasures!

Does this mean that our house isn't immaculate? Sure does. And our yard wouldn't win any landscaping awards, half-weeded beds and all. But I find myself planting far more flowers than I used to, acknowledging to my utilitarian self that even though these flowers don't feed our bodies, they feed that part of our soul that craves the beauty our Creator allows us to take a little part in. And I let dinner wait a few minutes so that the kids can arrange a pretty vegetable platter, fanned out and arranged by color. Because beauty matters.

Rosie Hill lives in a 19th century farmhouse in Virginia with her husband and six children. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, or on her blog. She homeschools, homesteads, and sends her kids outside every day during nap time so she can eat chocolate undisturbed. Sometimes it even works!