I drive up to church earlier than my family because I help lead the singing that opens Sunday School. As I drove up today through the valleys to Woodstock I peered hungrily through frosty car windows, looking for anything to lift me out of my funk. What a dreary landscape we have this time of year! It is like a coloring book–black lines begging for color.
Our souls require beauty. I’m sure this is why so many homes here grow a riot of annuals in spring gardens; after a long winter we feel starved for color. After I put Christmas away–the reds, greens, golds, and all the eye-catching sparkle–we’ll have nothing inside to counteract the austerity outdoors.
So what beauty is there to find in winter? As I continued to drive I thought about it. For one, light claims our attention. We have the play of light on the hillsides at dawn and dusk, the blush of hue in evening skies, the sparkle on newly fallen snow. Even the barren trees have a fascination, like leaves one sometimes finds on a forest floor, a lacy net of veins where the leaf cells have rotted away. In fresh snow the cold limbs are dressed in a clothes as elegant as a woman’s furs. In fact, any snowfall is lovely up until the middle of April, after which beauty is defined entirely by signs of spring. “The dirt road is breaking up and I was nearly stuck up to my hub in mud.” “I know–isn’t it lovely?”
My task, as I see it, is to compensate at home. How can I keep the souls that live here healthy? How can we get our quota of beauty? I plan to rotate my plants through the dining room, always having something living on our dining room table. For this very reason this fall I planted some partridge-berry in a glass jar terrarium, which captures the spring forest floor in miniature. About once a month I’ll buy a bouquet of fresh flowers and arrange them in a centerpiece low enough that we can converse over them. If I have time I’ll work on the quilt I started for the master bedroom, a Colorsplash in which every one of the 24 fabrics is floral. (Quilting is to winter what gardening is to spring.) I’ll encourage the kids to take on projects like it of their own.
I wonder if the beauty of good music and poetry will feed that part of us? I’d like to try. I still dream of having soirees where we make music, read poetry classics, and discuss literature.
Our heavenly Father created us with a nature that perceives the beauty of His creation. Made in His image, we are creators and artists in a reflection of His glory. Hasn’t He made women to be particularly responsive to beauty? Part of my homemaking this winter will be to arrange for us all to engage with the beautiful on a daily basis. With their soul-appetite satisfied, my family will grow in discernment of their need for beauty and the possibilities for creating beauty around them. May our homes be a blessing of the beautiful this winter.