Decorating has always been a part of my life. My mother’s subscription to Better Homes and Gardens rarely made it to her hands before mine. Especially during the summer months, when school didn’t impede my camping out on our front steps until the mail carrier arrived, I relished each issue and all the magical ways it offered to imagine and manifest lovely, comfortable spaces. Even then, decorating for me was synonymous with inspired living. Creating a beautiful environment equaled shaping a room or a house into my own world, even if that world existed only in my own mind.

Today is no different, except that the subscription to BH and G is now in my name.

Memories of pouring over pages and pages of rooms filled with pretty fabrics, finely-crafted furniture and fresh flowers positioned just so on a fireplace mantle motivated me to rearrange my bedroom this past weekend. Ever since I moved in last summer I had pondered the next steps of how I would translate the room into its most wonderful state of being. Standing back and surveying part of my kingdom satisfies me immensely. Watching it unfold as I drag the furniture around the room, reposition prints and mirrors to align with the new arrangement and shift the accessories to new locations, dusting and vacuuming as I go, is about bringing out the best that each piece has to offer in relationship to all the others with which it is associated. Sometimes that means moving an object to another room or giving it away so someone else can enjoy it. While I am still about creating my own world it no longer exists only in my head, and I am very clear that I am about achieving harmony, balance and peace with whatever resources I have at my disposal.

I tend not to look at objects as only being beautiful unto themselves, but also in how they can be utilized in everyday living. My favorite things are those that create beauty in their practicality. Baskets that hang on the wall in my living room transform themselves into serving trays and Christmas ornament displays. Teapots on bookshelves can be plucked from their perches and placed on the table ready for brewing. Pillows resting on chairs and sofas provide visual texture and interest, but also feel really good against a tired back or under a weary, nap-ready head.

So it isn’t about the dollar value of what I possess, but about the extravagant application of my creativity that means much more to me. I feel wealthy after I complete such an adventure, standing back to again survey my kingdom, knowing that inspiration is truly a God-given gift that can be applied anywhere we see fit to make the world a better place.

My next door neighbor knows inspiration is a gift in her work as an occupational therapist. Her job is to help people reclaim their bodies after such devastating occurrences as strokes and accidents. Even being able to help someone relearn how to move a finger makes her day. To achieve these goals she employs all the tools available to her: her education, training, dedication and most importantly, her faith. She talks about how her soul resonates with the souls of the people with whom she works. That resonance, God’s spirit communicating between them, is what guides her to help her patients draw on their own strength to heal. Although not in her job description, she styled a patient’s hair last week, giving the woman a whole new outlook on herself and the world. Three extra minutes of my neighbor’s time made her patient feel beautiful again. From that moment of delight came a movement forward in her therapy on which she continues to build each day.

My guess is that home decor and occupational therapy are not linked in your mind as equal avenues to creating a better world. Perhaps you had an inkling that I had waded into the shallow end of the theological pool talking about decorating as a spiritual experience. Maybe you are not aware that whenever God’s spirit is made tangible there is beauty to behold if you are willing to see it.

Jesus was certainly not above enjoying the beauty surrounding him or using beauty as a tool to expand people’s understanding of where and how God resided in their world. He encouraged those willing to hear to let go of their anxiety and to, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow’; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (Matthew 28-29).” From that observation I can only surmise that Jesus used beauty as a practical teaching tool and also saw beauty in people’s souls. It is poetic to look beyond what others see and feel the depth of truth that lies within living beings, whether they be flowers, animals or women, children and men.

Have you ever wondered who you would have chosen as your disciples if you were in Jesus’ place? It’s endlessly fascinating to me how clearly Jesus could see through to the core of who he selected as his closest allies. He didn’t choose these people based on standard hiring guidelines but on how their characters and gifts resonated with the work that needed to be done in that time and place. He chose them for the truth, the beauty of who they were and how they would apply themselves to the simple and complex practicalities of what was and what was to come. Whatever mistakes they made along the way, their one decision to follow Jesus set them on a path that would bring forth everything they had to offer.

We are no different, called as we are to give the best, the most beautiful parts of ourselves to whatever purpose we are here to serve. Beauty is often pushed aside in favor of the harsh realities of living that overwhelm us, even on our best days. But God did not separate out the beautiful from the practical in the process of creation, and God never told us to separate out the beautiful from the practical in our own process of creation. If either were true the sky would not provide such endless supplies of clouds and stars, and there would surely be no graceful variety in architecture or food. Homes could all look the same and food could be food. We would be housed and fed just the same.

Making the world a better place, a more beautiful place, is about perspective and action. There is great beauty in the truth of living because everything we create comes from God from whom all blessings flow. How that is made real, welcomed into the vast creation in which we live, is as individual as we are. How all that energy and abundance works together is how God continues to work among us engendering harmony, balance and peace as both simple and ample grace. We dance together as God’s people, each giving to and receiving from one another all the gifts God has given us. Beautiful and practical, just like God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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