Make it Beautiful

(This post originally appeared at

I graduated from a small liberal arts college, founded in 1876 by a man who took faith, freedom, and education very seriously. During the founding period, his mentor (also a serious, devout, and prosperous man) is said to have advised, “Make the College healthful, for that is essential. Make it beautiful, for that is an education.”

It’s the kind of quote that brochure-makers love. After four years of enrollment, plus several years of receiving alumni publications, I’ve seen it so many times it has lost its original charm. But a thought hit me the other day – Isn’t this what parents do? Isn’t this a good description of homemaking?

Make it healthful: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and wash your hands first, and forgive your sister, and go play outside, every day.

Make it beautiful: floors vacuumed, and dishes scrubbed, and the smell of clean sheets, and the sound of music, and the music of loving words, day and night.

A lively home is built out of small things and sometimes we misunderstand, and we think that home is a small thing. But what if the great men, the founders of good institutions, are merely trying to achieve the goodness of home, apart from home? I’d say that’s a difficult job, but not a more important one.

Home: The original “essential & educational.” Made by normal parents everywhere.

[Picture by Julie Witmer]