This weekend, I was lifted up and reminded of the reasons I am working on my Beauty painting from Isaiah. I believe so much in the virtue of beauty, which most often is expressed in the discipline of the Arts—more specifically, the disciplines of visual art, literature, and music, dance and theater. In our world of “anything goes,” we’ve lost an emphasis on beauty.
The loss becomes laughably obvious when I see works of art such as crashed cars. Sometimes I’m convinced that we officially have no further to go before the virtue of beauty is completely gone in some circles. Scott Burdick spells this out so clearly in the field of visual arts with his series “The Banishment of Beauty,” that I can hardly believe how long the degeneration of beauty has been going on (caution: Burdick draws from the overabundance of irreverent and grotesque examples of art to prove his point, and as such, this should be previewed without children).
Although my conviction about the importance of beauty is strong, and I have known I want to both treasure and defend it as part of my purpose in life, I really made the connection on how to leverage it for my family and home school this weekend.
I recently attended a wonderful conference and listened to Marlene Peterson share her ideas about the Well Educated Heart. She so skillfully organized into words many of the feelings in my heart. She pointed out that in our world of rigorous academics, we have lost the emphasis on the importance of beauty. And it’s that emphasis on beauty FIRST in our homes and schools that reaches the hearts of children. Once their hearts are engaged, they will not only have the interest in learning academics, but also build the requisite foundation that makes academics more useful and relevant. Surely academics are important and necessary. We can’t be saved in ignorance. But when the heart is activated first, through beautiful art, poetry, music, and stories, the heart drives the academics far differently than rigorous academics alone. By the way, she taught that “rigorous” and “rigor mortis” have the same route word “rigor” from latin meaning “stiffness, rigidity, rigor, cold, harshness!” And hasn’t our emphasis on academics alone for the past century produced just that!
Even though I consider myself an optimist about the future, I am still very aware of the difficult times in which we live. In another speech this weekend, Stephen Story said it very succinctly, “The coming storm is not a curse—it is an opportunity!” And it is…a remarkable opportunity to cherish beauty in the face of ugliness and love in the face of hatred.
I commit to take an opportunity as often as I can—every day—to use beautiful stories, art, and music to awaken my precious children’s perspective. Will you join me in giving your children that beautiful, inspiring foundation necessary to build a future unified civilization? I know with all my heart that civilization can and will be built. And with our efforts, it will be beautiful!