Many people find keen enjoyment in beautifying their surroundings, whether it's renovating an old house, painting a bedroom in a rented apartment, or placing a pot of flowers near the back door. Even with a limited budget, it's possible to provide touches of grace and beauty that please the eye and refresh the spirit.
In fact, despite what advertisers of home and garden products would have us believe, the loveliness of our dwellings is not a function of the amount of money spent on them. Isn't what really makes a place attractive â€“ what makes it feel good to be in â€“ more a function of the qualities it embodies? Qualities such as order, harmony, grace, and peace?
Hinting at this concept, the Psalmist sang, "I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth" (Ps. 26:8). Honoring God, the Father-Mother of all, by recognizing His-Her presence and expressing the divine nature is a sure way to permeate the atmosphere of one's home with loveliness.
A young woman discovered something of this when she longed for a home of her own. She and her husband had a little daughter and another baby on the way, and they were renting a tiny cottage. The woman prayed for an answer to her longing, but her prayers were mainly for change in her situation.
One day she mentioned her hopes for "a fuller sense of home" to a friend who was a Christian Scientist. The friend remarked, "Moving to a bigger house won't mean a fuller sense of home than you have right now."
That surprised the woman, but when she thought about it, she saw that it was true. She remembered some of the good things about her cottage: a guest's comments about the "gentle joy" in her home, a visitor who was impressed with the peace she felt there, and the home's role as a setting for happy get-togethers for friends and relatives. The love this woman and her family felt for one another infused her home with a simple grace â€“ and motivated her to make it as attractive as she could.
Eventually, she and her husband were able to build a beautiful home of their own. Looking back, she saw that recognizing the spiritual qualities present in her tiny cottage was an indispensable step toward the realization of her hopes for a fuller outward expression of home.
It's possible to let Soul (another name for God) permeate the atmosphere of thought with what the Bible calls "the beauty of holiness" (Ps. 29:2). This "beauty of holiness" is a reflection of God as Love, the Love that "hath made every thing beautiful in his time" (Eccl. 3:11). Seeing ourselves and our surroundings as embraced by divine Love reveals a beauty that's not so much seen as felt. It's a spiritual quality â€“ a manifestation of God's presence â€“ felt through spiritual sense.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote: "Comeliness and grace are independent of matter. Being possesses its qualities before they are perceived humanly. Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 247.)
Qualities such as grace, beauty, and love are gifts that God gives to each one of us. And we can express them abundantly in our surroundings, beautifying our homes â€“ owned or rented, big or small â€“ and blessing those around us.