Monday, April 20, 2015

"WHAT IS A FAMILY? : A Changing Life Mobile"

                                    " mobile   n.   Art.  A delicately balanced construction or sculpture of a type developed by Alexander Calder since 1930, usually with movable parts, which can be set in motion by currents of air or mechanically propelled."   Webster's New International Dictionary, published 1954.
"In so many ways a family is a mobile - an artwork that takes years, even generations, to produce, but which is never finished. The artwork of this mobile called 'family' continues, and imagination, creativity, originality, talent, concern, love, compassion, excitement, determination, and time produce a diversity which is a challenge to any intelligent human being who has been given understanding of how to begin in the studio of life itself." WHAT IS A FAMILY? Edith Schaeffer p.18.
What an accurate picture, of a family being a life mobile, always changing in endless ways, which as Edith Schaeffer acknowledges, is a huge challenge for any parent to have the capacity to work with!
"A mobile is a moving, changing collection of objects constantly in motion,... Every individual is growing, changing, developing, or declining - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and psychologically. No two years, no two months, or no two days is there the exact same blend or mix within the family, as each individual person is changing. If people are developing in a variety of creative areas, coming to deeper understanding spiritually, adding a great deal of knowledge in one area or another, living through stimulating discoveries of fresh ideas or skills - they are affecting each other positively. ... What is a family? A family is a mobile. A family is an art form. A family is an exciting art career, because an art form needs work." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.18-19.
Edith uses the mobile analogy to describe the unique and temporary position each family is in right now. We will never again have the combination of situations that are happening today in our family. Your family is not static, it is either developing positively or declining, and parents are contributors to which direction their family goes. 
An art form, like the family, requires time spend on it for it to develop in positive ways. Because you created your family, it is your time that it needs. Your family needs you to make the choice to make it your "exciting art career".
"The universe is a spoiled universe, and people have been really made 'abnormal' by sin. There is no possible way of having good relationships, nor of having a whole grouping of good relationships in the framework of a family, if there is no one who understands that it takes time, patience, hard times, unselfish work, sacrifice of a variety of sorts, and planning on the part of someone to insure memories of beauty sprinkled all through the difficulties. Someone has to feel the wonder and dignity of having the mobile of the family be the artwork which that person is interested in seeing develop." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.29.
Someone - it can only be parents who take on that sort of  responsibility - to take time, be patient, work hard and unselfishly, and sacrifice, "to insure memories of beauty (are) sprinkled all through the difficulties" of life.
"Mobiles - smashed, torn, sagging, all balance gone, the delicate interplay finished - turned into something too ugly to keep around, too painful to see. Broken marriages, smashed homes, splintered relationships, shattered families, these have become the norm in this twentieth century (and twenty-first). No generation to follow a generation in the beauty of balance threaded together like the mobile! Senseless breaking up of priceless, living, balanced beauty over - so often - nothing." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.31.
Edith Shaeffer goes on to say that all families which are heading in  positive directions, have also been "in danger of being broken." Being affected by anger, pride, frustration, impatience, being misunderstood..., is common to every human relationship "for at least minutes, if not hours or days." 
She goes on to say that there is a different outcome only where a deep, strong understanding exists of the importance of family continuity. 
This is why bringing up a family is such a challenge, requiring strength, understanding and generations of work.
"There is a beauty and continuity which can never be had unless someone in the family has the certainty that the whole art form is more important than one incident, or even a string of incidents. To smash a Ming vase which is absolutely irreplaceable - just to satisfy a violent feeling of wanting to be emphatic in making a statement, when there is a five-and-ten-cent-store plate which could be smashed just as well to suit the need - is a minimal picture of what it is to smash the living artwork of a family, and then to spend the rest of one's life paying for it and seeing other people pay for it, too. Wasted lives." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.32.
Your family is delicate, precious as the threads in the art mobile.
Where are you heading your family? Are you influencing your family  in positive ways? If not, the outcome is clear. 
A few guidelines are suggested above, but if you are struggling and would like help and encouragement, feel free to contact me through my website - I would be happy to meet with you to help. 

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