Mosaic art is incredible. While visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., my family and I stood gaping at the intricate mosaic of Christ in Majesty behind the main altar. From a distance nearly three million tiny pieces merged into such a powerful image of Christ that it left me awestruck.
We were in awe, in part, because we had dabbled in mosaic art while studying the Middle Ages in home school, and let me tell you, it is NOT as easy! It was hard enough for us to make simple geometric designs; we couldn’t imagine being able to make the 3,600-square-foot IMAX mosaic in front of us.
Looking at a mosaic up close, the artist’s choice of shape and color are not intrinsically logical. The artistry of creating a mosaic lies in the artist’s ability to be mindful of the big picture while working on only a small portion; in giving adequate attention to the details of one tile at a time before moving too quickly to the next.
I think childhood is a large mosaic with parents as the primary artists. The individual tiles are the experiences we provide for our children. The colors of the tiles are the heart attitudes we have while properly placing those experiences. The challenge of parenting, then, is three-fold: 1) having a vision for the type of childhood you want for your children, 2) choosing and cementing in place the experiences that will add up to the big picture of childhood that you’ve chosen, and 3) coloring the entire picture with the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Parents will not, of course, have complete control over every experience and attitude their child encounters. But, rather than this reality letting parents off the hook, it only highlights how important it is that parents purposefully choose good shapes and pleasing colors when they do have the choice.
Are you committed to your marriage? The most important piece of any happy childhood is a mom and a dad who love one another and who work at keeping that love alive. Are you committed to the work of family life? Continually surrounding your kids with love, structure, and discipline takes diligence and is not always fun, but it is a big part of creating a safe and happy home. Simple things like eating dinner together, or taking walks or bike rides together, laid side by side over an entire childhood will create beautiful memories of love and family togetherness from which they will draw strength for the rest of their lives.
Where will you live? How many children will you have? How will you educate your children? Will one parent work or two? These are the details that will form the mosaic of your child’s childhood. These are the details to which you must give some thought. For some of these lifestyle choices, there is no on-size-fits-all answer. You do not have to do what your parents did nor what your friends are doing. You do have to think and pray about the overall mosaic that you and your spouse want to create or you may end up with an unintentional hodge podge instead of a purposeful design.
With the idea of a mosaic in mind it is easy for me to understand why Jesus emphasized that obeying the spirit of the law is as essential as obeying the letter of the law. The same shapes will create an entirely different mosaic if they are colored with shades of blue and green, say, instead of orange and red; doubt, despair, and disinterest, instead of faith, hope, and love. Color represents your heart attitude. Doing a little self-evaluation can help you assess the attitudes that are coloring the tiles of your children’s mosaics. So seek God’s help and guidance in designing and fabricating a happy and holy childhood for your little (and not so little) ones, one mosaic piece at a time. When you finally get to see the big picture, your attention to the daily details will have made a big difference. I hope it takes your breath away!
Copyright 2013 Heidi Bratton