Can We Perceive Loveliness?
November 19, 2013
I had a conversation with my 13yo about this statement:
“Boredom is the seed of unloveliness.” Leigh Bortins refers to this idea in this video after reading a priest’s passionate book on cooking, The Supper of the Lamb. He has a chapter on smelling onions or loving onions?!
My son defined “boredom” and we defined “loveliness”. He remarked that loveliness included what is good, and “what you like”. That opened up a conversation about whether there are things that are lovely whether we see them as such or not. Is a rose lovely whether you like it or not? Is creation lovely because a loving God made it, not because we perceive it as such? Does our minute perception or opinion diminish the eternal beauty of created situations, subjects, or seasons of life?
Part of his definition of “boredom” was – not wanting to work. Yes! I am so glad he didn’t say – when there’s nothing to do, because the point of the quote is that the reason you perceive something as unlovely is because you do not want to work at seeing the lovely – if you are bored with it, it is unlovely to you - is this a correct way to assess loveliness?
What makes a thing boring – is it the hard work? Is it the lack of natural affinity – and then should an acquired affinity be attempted? – Because that strikes at the heart of the essence of Classical education – beholding the true, the good, the beautiful.
Here was a quote she also referenced from Plato’s Meno . Plato credits Socrates as saying:
“Some things I have said of which I am not altogether confident. But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to inquire than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know; — that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power.”
I want to convey to my children they should not be content to just be bored or dislike something – they should seek to ask why they don’t like something, and then seek to undislike it, acquire an appreciation of its inherent loveliness, and this may require hard work.
But what can I-I-I do to exemplify and inspire this attitude, or principle? I hope my children see me seeking what is true, and good, and lovely, and not avoiding the things that are hard for me.
Although, I will say I avoid housework. And as I listened to Leigh and her going through these ideas of loveliness and the passionate cooking priest loving onions, I wondered about the need for me to stop and seek the loveliness of keeping my home. – Help me, Lord Jesus!
What are some things you avoid because you perceive them as hard or unlovely? Can you see a need to ask God – how is this thing lovely and help me to work hard to see it that way too?
Some recommendations that reflect these ideas: