Back in January, we attended a Fulltime Families Retreat in Southern California. One evening, we invited the Sloan family over to get to know them better. Part of our conversation included upcoming summer destinations. They planned to visit the East Coast and our plans included Alaska.
The next morning the Sloan’s informed us that their summer plans had changed during the night—they now planned to go to Alaska with us! Surprisingly, this isn’t that unusual in our lifestyle. You meet people. You like them. You travel with them. But it is funny to take myself out of the fulltime travel mindset and try to picture a scenario like this happening. You invite someone new to the area over for lunch after church. You talk about your upcoming plans for a family vacation to Florida. The following Sunday they announce surprise: they’ve booked the same flight and plan to tag along! I can’t imagine that ever happening, yet it does when you live your life on the road and get the freedom to choose your neighbors and travel companions.
“Dear old world. . . you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
My three youngest sit in the backseat of the van munching on sandwiches and carrot sticks. Dear sweet Anne of Green Gables entertains us with her deep scope of imagination as we listen to her story unfold. Trent and Hunter bravely set our course into new territory as I follow behind in the van embarking on the next chapter of our own story.
The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life. ~Frank Lloyd Wright
Cultivate (verb): to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine.
Not too long ago my husband and I were driving home from a date and discussing things we have recently learned about ourselves. His discovery was along the lines of musical preferences while mine was steeped in education. Trent identified a unique musical genre that transports and inspires him while I pinpointed a major player in the reason I enjoy homeschooling: I love learning new things each day. Both were tied to beauty. Music holds beauty. Education holds beauty. I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately. Most specifically, how easily it can be pushed aside, marginalized and minimized out of our day. I’ve noticed that raw beauty often cannot be held. Think sunsets, misty mornings, a moving sonata, children laughing, the smell of freshly baked bread. I’ve been making mental beauty lists with the intent to keep the beauty around me from slipping through my fingers. I’ve pondered ways to plan, pursue, and practice beauty. Turns out cultivating beauty isn’t always easy, natural or automatic.
Here is the start to my growing list:
Taken at face value, these words can seem a bit stale, but unpacking them reveals a deeper level of life waiting to be invested in.
Nature. When was the last time you observed something in nature for more than 5 sustained minutes? Being surrounded by something can often lead us to take it for granted. My challenge is to notice and appreciate the things around me more fully.