“That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archive of our experience.” Thomas Jefferson
A few weeks ago, after a couple of trips and some wearying legs on an airplane, I had the privilege of attending a tea that one of my friends was holding in her home. The tables for 30 people around her living area in a modest home had been set with care. Flowers, candles, centerpieces with small art pieces placed here and there.
The fare was simple but elegant–fresh fruit–grapes, tangerines, strawberries served on a crystal dish with 3 kinds of cheese and multi-grain crackers. A scone and jam course. Finger sandwiches–cucumber, egg salad, ham and onion cream cheese and finally chocolates with petit fours.
Classical music wafted through the air as all the women present (including me and my two daughters) talked quietly–it was as if the atmosphere drew out an elegance and refined manners from all of us because we were tasting of beauty.
Between each course, our hostess showed us different Pre-Raphaelite prints from England, beautiful prints of feminine women, knights, heroes and saints who were depicted by artists in the early 1900′s who wanted to bring back the elegance and beauty into art. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s life was told in between the prints as the foundation of many of the pictures being painted to reflect his poetry–in memoriam, being one of the best. The love story of his life, his struggle to prove himself, and his faithful love throughout his lifetime.
Our souls were elevated to higher thoughts. Our femininity was cultivated and refined and we were called upon to become more intellectually adept as we pondered how a movement of idealists had in influence on their culture because of their commitment to exalt marriage, and Biblical design of men and women reflecting excellence and beauty in character.
I could see Joy sitting straighter, listening to inspiration, desiring to become more ideal. And all because a woman, who is herself always learning and studying, wanted to pass on civility and beauty to her friends. I know it was a great amount of work, but her labor exalted our souls.
And so it is, we cannot pass on civility, beauty, intelligence, excellence of mind and heart, if we do not ourselves make these virtues a goal of our lives. Whatever we pursue and cultivate will determine what we are also able to pass on to all who we encounter. As stewards of our souls, we must seek to cultivate a garden of beauty–it must be a regular habit, a discipline, to expose ourselves to great minds, the best musicians, fine artists, great theologians, wonderful biographies–so that our souls will indeed reflect a museum of His great character and nobility–that of our great king.
On to Dallas this morning and excited to pass on that which has been recently invested in my own soul.