As a young woman, I’ll never forget the day when I read the ancient writings in the Book of Genesis that the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden…and out of the ground he made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight. Wow… you mean they were designed just for their ability to please the eye and not just to produce food?
Something that day became alive inside me. I was relieved to know that my yearning for beauty around me was okay – not just okay, but actually good and wonderful. I was free to love and enjoy the beauty of Creation around me. It wasn’t being frivolous. Flower gardens were just as needful as vegetable gardens. Beautiful things, whether it's God himself who makes them or those individuals in our world who share gifts of music, art, garden design, architecture, writings, crafts of all sorts…they are all given for us to enjoy and receive inspiration, refreshing, even healing.
It’s about finding glimpses of heaven in unexpected places here on earth. Sometimes, maybe too often, earth doesn’t feel very heavenly, so it’s learning the art of choosing to live in beauty, so that wherever we go, whatever we do, whatever we say, we will find it seeping into our very nature and leaving traces of it in our wake.
Which in the end leads me to Him, the One who created all that is beautiful in nature...our world, our universe. And we love Him for it. There are religious practices which make Him appear ugly, mean-spirited and dreadfully dreary, but how can that be? A person can only create out of what is already within. So when I see the glory and beauty of the natural world, I know He has a beautiful heart. And so I long to be a co--creator of beauty with Him.
I'll always be indebted--grateful beyond words--for two lovely ladies who, many years ago now, became my inspiration. They have been, and continue to be, my mentors in the art of living beautifully. Although not an actual flesh and blood person, I consider the classic Victoria magazine, under the graceful editorship of Nancy Lindemeyer, one of my leading ladies. Through her pages, she has given me a vision of loveliness like no other. And, it was through the magazine that I first 'met' another excellent example to harken... Alexandra Stoddard, author of many books, including my favourite, Living A Beautiful Life. She really touched my life and showed me how I could live a beautiful life.
Some people have the gift to share the beauty they see through words, photography, and the creation of beautiful books and magazines. Others share their vision through homemaking and raising their families in nurturing, sheltering ways. There are those who do it by dedicating their lives to careers that bring hope to destitute people.
And there are creative individuals who share their vision through art and painting; people like painter Vincent van Gogh. His works are beautiful, but the rarer gift, perhaps, is that he had eyes to see the beauty everywhere and the generosity of 'simply loving what he saw and then wanting to share it with others, not for the purpose of showing off, but out of generosity.'
It was author Brenda Ueland, in her book, If You Want to Write, who captured that creative essence of what artist Vincent van Gogh longed to do with his art. As I read the piece below, it turns out my own heart was playing the same melody of longing to share the beauty I see and the hope I feel.
As a young man in his early twenties, he was "in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamp post, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks. And then on his cheap ruled notepaper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it."Yes, that's what I want to do... here on this blog! I'm not a painter or a photographer, but I love to paint the colours and beauty I see around me using words. And so I write. To inspire, to encourage, to hold out words of healing. With the hopes that they will motivate you to look around, to see the beauty, and to live with joy because you, too, have caught a glimpse of heaven here on earth.
I think it was Socrates who said that the unexamined life was not worth living. It's certainly easier to leave things unexamined, but an honest look into our own heart goes a long way towards making sure we're living with integrity and that our actions are indeed the result of our own intentions. It's so easy to get bogged down with someone else's expectations, especially in the blogging world. There's always such a push to measure success by counting numbers (this many views! this many comments!), but in the end, if it's not personally satisfying, it's not worth the effort. So kudos, sister, for having the inward look and re-establishing your motivation and inspiration for continuing to write about beautiful living. Your readers will thank you :)ReplyDelete
Kathy, as you full well know, it's taken a while to sort through it all. You've heard my blatherings about it as I sort out my heart's desires, along with His. Didn't someone once say they have to write it out to hear what they are saying.Delete
Thanks for being there...here...
Do you also enjoy Edith Schaeffer's writing on this subject? I think that you must! This is lovely and how wonderful that you have a purpose and know what it is. Some of us, as you may have recognized, are still clueless. You have created a little garden of your own for us to enjoy here in Blogdom.ReplyDelete
Vee, I had a clear purpose when I started years ago... it was a place to write and to write about living a beautiful life.ReplyDelete
Then it got muddied because I thought I should be more 'faith' focused (like many believers) or more writing minded (like dedicated authors) or more creative crafters (and post about creative handworks)or people who love to cook (well I should post more recipes)....
You get the idea... I lost my track. So when I went back to where I started, I found my heart again.
I'm not an artist, crafter, gourmet cook, neither am I a photographer. Trying to do any of these things became a wild distraction me, because I tried to wear all the hats. But I'm mediocre at some, better at others, but not at home in any of them, at least not to dedicate a whole blog to.
I may not be Shakespeare with words, but that's where I love to be... creating a world of joy and vision with words, not with food, yarn, paint, or cameras. I can love visiting those who do, but not try to be them.
Vee, about your own blog, I do think you have a focus... even if you don't feel it. Your blog name says, A Haven for Vee, and everything you write seems to come from that place of shelter.
You're either creating it for someone else who comes to spend a few minutes in that space (I have often felt sheltered there), or you're writing to find your own way through the chaotic up-side-down messes to the shelter of faith, community, comfort of your own home. (Maybe your mind feels clueless, as you say, but I believe your heart knows full well where it goes)...that's how I see it from here.
And you know what, I don't know Edith Schaeffer's writings much... I know more her husband's. I've looked for her stuff in the past and so maybe I should pursue more closely, keep an eye out in the used bookshops.
Thanks for your kind comments about this place....
Brenda, your words always warm me. You don't need to write the things that you think are 'expected', such as cookery, craft, etc. The words that come from your heart are an inspiration.ReplyDelete
Because, with an invalid husband, I am fairly housebound, my garden is of prime importance to me, and I often wonder if I write too much about that. But it is my comfort and joy!
We do need to focus on what brings true joy and comfort to our lives. And because it matters to you, it will matter to the readers who gather around you.Delete
I enjoy reading about your garden and seeing your photos. And now knowing how important it really is to you, I will be reading your pieces with my ear bent to hear your heartbeat even more.
Thank you Brenda.Delete
Your blog is a place of beauty and gentleness, Brenda. I'm always encouraged after visiting.ReplyDelete
I wonder sometimes if my blog should be more faith-based, too. But then I realize that the beauty I see in the world and the creativity I write about are gifts from God. I just need to be a witness of my own experiences.
This is a lovely raison d'etre for your blog.
Lorrie, I do love your way with French phrases. Makes me glad to be the recipient in even this small way of your hard work in your French studies a while back. They are lovely turns of phrases.Delete
And thank you for your lovely comments. Because your writing is a gift to your readers...I love coming to visit your blog.
It's true, I'm becoming more confident of this, that when we live in ways that makes our own hearts sing, they will have the finger print and fragrance of the Divine that dwells by His Spirit is us.
That was a lovely post, Brenda. I feel we are kindred spirits. There is so much beauty in the world, if we but look for it.ReplyDelete
Thank you , too, for your visits to my blog and your sweet comments, too. Susan
Kindred hearts... I agree. I'm so glad our paths have crossed.Delete
thanks for a dose of daily inspiration...ReplyDelete
Ah, Lin, you are an inspiration to me too, the way you just stay so focused on your path...ever creating new works -- your books, poetry and postings -- to help and inform your readers.Delete
Brenda, reading this evokes smiles and tears...truly inspired, you are definitely bringing beauty to this life! Thank-you for not holding back, but inspiring others to seek beauty,and to BE that beauty! I really enjoyed this. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make pages on my blog. Your pages are so enjoyable as you spread and share the Beauty! Thank-you and God bless.ReplyDelete
Janet... thank you!Delete
About making pages....rather than me trying to sort it out, I'm sending you this link; this blogger explains it nicely:
Your writing is beautiful and I am so glad to know how you came to find your Heaven on earth.ReplyDelete
Ah, thanks Merry!Delete
beautiful post brenda!! just be true to yourself...ReplyDelete
I've learned to be true to myself when I feel safe around people, but it's exposing my inner world in this new way that I find harder. So thank you, Linda, for the encouragement.Delete
Yes, you definitely need to find some of Edith Schaeffer's books (I am a Stoddard admirerer, also).ReplyDelete
Linda sums it up so well..."Just be true to yourself" - your heart's desires were given to you by the Creator and His beauty flows through your word pictures.
I am blessed seeing beauty through your eyes.
Well, since you are a second voice encouraging me to go in search of some of Edith's works, then I shall heed. My life-long plumb line for receiving 'words' or truth is from that saying 'out of the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.' If find it usually comes in three for me.Delete
Another book that has been an inspiration to me is Ingrid Trobisch's "Keeper of the Springs, Making Home The Place For Which You're Longing."
She uses the springs on her Ozark property as a metaphor for her homekeeping in three continents.
Thank you, Rebecca, for being a blessing to me!