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: appreciative of, responsive to, or zealous about the beautiful; also : responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses
Just in case you wondered whether mothers have a role in the aesthetic education of their children, I give you these definitions. Maybe it seems obvious to you, but to many moms at home it’s news that they have a key role in the development of this essential aspect of their child’s being. Feeling frumpy, house not as clean as it should be, no adult conversations all day, no time for extras like art and music…does this sound like any young mom you know? It sounds like lots of young moms to me. That’s why I enjoy encouraging them that even with all those realities, they still make a priceless contribution to more than the mere physical care of the little ones.
To make a case against two opposing ways of un-making beauty, I invented two characters, Dishrag Dora and Pushy Polly, who grow more like Beautiful Beatrice the more they respond to Christ’s call to the narrow way, the via media. The beauty that is becoming YOU, becoming realized in and finding expression through you, is not something you must generate, but something you must accept, grow into, possess, allow to develop, learn to dwell in, cultivate. Because the Beauty is Christ, is already real, is working to be made fully manifest. Dora and Polly lose capacity for that Beauty when they fail to cultivate heart freedom, responsiveness, the affective dimension.
‘My’ moms learn to suffer well, to be affected and so to develop their children’s capacity to be affected and to make judgements with a reason informed by the heart’s sense of what is good, pleasing and perfect. There’s so much more to this one, yet it is all another way of saying that true freedom, true beauty, true education, true relationship with Christ all go together on that narrow way.
A mom is the caretaker of a huge, wonderful, potentially beautiful, critically important place! She, herself, this actual, unique person, is the single most important ‘environment’ in the lives of her children. Like Mary, like the Church, she is an atmosphere.
She is an atmosphere of affection. This is not just warm, fuzzy feelings, but her capacity to be affected, to be moved. Home is Mom’s joy infused into persons, like grace.
She is an acoustic atmosphere. Think of all the sounds she makes besides yelling, “Off with their heads!” now and then! Home is Mom’s voice lifting persons toward God.
She is an aesthetic atmosphere. All the order and beauty, color, line, pattern, radiance, and integrity of the environment she is, and the environment she creates, is the child’s first taste of love-in-formed. Home is Mom wrapped around persons like love.
With thanks for the poem, The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, I designed this talk for the 2014 Kansas Catholic Homeschooling Conference, and will gladly present it again for you!
Here’s a collection of my talks that feature poetry, poems, or poetic formation.