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HOME LIFE


THE very planning, building, and furnishing of such a home as I have endeavored to describe will prove a powerful incentive toward a simpler and more significant family life. Take the one item of pictures, for example. If the selection of these involves a preliminary study of the history of art, and an acquaintance with the aims and ideals of the great masters, what a step in culture will have been achieved! And in surroundings of simple dignity, light and flippant music will soon appear vulgar and inopportune. Ephemeral ragtime airs will yield precedence to Schumann and Chopin, to Beethoven and Bach. Poetry will be in keeping with the spirit of such a home, and Keats and Shelley will not be forgotten.

A superficial liking for aesthetic things may be accompanied with the most trifling of dilettantism, and have no effect in deepening spiritual life, but a real understanding or even a resolute effort to understand and sympathize with the ideal of beauty must of necessity strengthen and enrich the soul of man. Gradually the dweller in the simple home will come to ponder upon the meaning of art, and will awaken to that illuminating insight that all art is a form of service inspired by love. It will then become apparent how truly the home is the real art center. The great Christian painters have chosen for the theme of their noblest works the divine mother looking with adoration upon her child. And what mother has not the halo of divinity about her as she bends with loving solicitude above the helpless life that is to be made or marred by the power she exercises over it. We hear much in these days of race suicide, but the menace comes not from those who love their homes. It is only amongst those for whom the feverish pleasures of the world outweigh the simple joys of the hearthstone that this danger exists.

In the thought of service lies the salvation of the race as of the individual, and in the simple home, service comes so naturally. Service is love realized in activity. The very mark which distinguishes love from lust is this same service this willingness to objectify faith in work, to share tasks, to lighten the burdens of another. As love is the end of life, so is service the test and sign of love.

What is the home but a temple consecrated to love, where the form of worship is service? And the woman is the high priestess, the one who makes the supreme sacrifice, the one who has the supreme reward. The idea of woman's rights becomes insignificant in the face of this great privilege of service. But the woman must be fitted for the service the higher the service the more complete the training. Higher education is a matter of course for the woman of whom we are to expect higher service. And what higher service does life afford than the molding of the plastic mind of the child, the expanding of the soul's horizon, the developing of character, the leading, by precept and example, of the human spirit up the height of Sinai where it may stand in the presence of its God.

Not alone in the relation of parents to offspring, but in all the associations of family life is this touchstone of service illuminating. The relations of children to one another and to the home are exalted by it. The duties of the servant are no longer those of a drudge when elevated to the dignity of participation in family service and in the advancement and joy of home life. And the mistress also has a duty of service toward her helper which is not discharged by the payment of certain sums of money a duty to aid in lightening the tasks, in making the work more rational, more interesting, more orderly, and in making the leisure more joyous., more profitable toward attaining the ends of refinement and humanity.

California Home in the Spirit of a Swiss Chalet
California Home in the Spirit of a Swiss Chalet

Of all reforms needed in the life of the home, that of the relation of the man to his family is most pressing. Modern materialism demands of far too many men an unworthy sacrifice. That the wife and children may live in ostentation the man must be a slave to business, rushing and jostling with the crowd in the scramble for wealth. A simpler standard of living will give him more time for art and culture, more time for his family, more time to live.

The day is ripe for the general adoption of this idea of the simple home. People are growing weary of shams and are longing for reality. They will never get it till they learn that the ideal is the real, that beauty is truth, and that love is the inspiration for beauty. Let those who would see a higher culture in California, a deeper life, a nobler humanity, work for the adoption of the simple home among all classes of people, trusting that the inspiration of its mute walls will be a ceaseless challenge to all who dwell within their shadow, for beauty and character.


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