Darrow Miller and Friends

What I Learned About BEAUTY from Edith Schaeffer

Our good friend Nancy Pearcey wrote a brief eulogy for Edith Schaeffer, who died March 30 in Switzerland. Edith  taught us both about the apologetics of beauty. Nancy’s post by that title tells it much better than I can. 

Nancy Pearcey

What most impressed me in knowing Edith at L’Abri was her emphasis on everyday beauty.

Arriving as a critical agnostic, I was surprised to meet Christians who actually cared about the world of ideas and the arts. It was not merely that Francis Schaeffer lectured about the arts, however.

It was also that Edith thought it important for the Christian to incorporate beauty into all of life — such as simple but elegant table settings with a flower and a candle. Not expensive items, not conspicuous consumption. But creative (expressing your unique personality) and natural (using items and themes from nature when possible).

Though I had grown up in the church, I had never before met Christians who understood that our souls hunger for beauty just as much as for truth and goodness.

For me, as for many others who studied at L’Abri in the days when Edith still presided, there was an apologetics of beauty that made me want Christianity to be true, at the same time that I was working through a philosophical apologetics that was persuading me intellectually that it was true.

Edith described her love of everyday beauty in Hidden Art (the title was later expanded to The Hidden Art of Homemaking).

Chalet-Les-Melezes-600x399Thanks, Nancy, for such a well-written tribute which has my wholehearted approbation.

For my own experience, I will never forget the first time I had dinner with the Schaeffers in their home, the Chalet Les Melezes. The table was beautifully set with candles, cut dried flowers and linen napkins. The meal was beautifully presented, fresh and delicious. Nothing fast about this meal: it was “slow food” before anyone knew the term.

Edith wrote:

Edith Schaefer

There is no occasion when meals should become totally unimportant. Meals can be very small indeed, very inexpensive, short times taken in the midst of a big push of work, but they should always be more than just food. Relaxation, communication, and a measure of beauty and pleasure should be part of even the shortest of meal breaks.

We learned the Apologetic of Beauty from Edith Schaeffer. Thank you Edith, for your life and all that you taught us through your life of hidden art!

– Darrow Miller

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  1. Jannie Van Noppen

    April 8, 2013 - 10:00 am

    A remarkable wonder woman-such an example of love and beauty.

    • admin

      April 9, 2013 - 4:05 pm

      Jannie, thanks so much for reading and responding!

      Gary Brumbelow

  2. raymond (youen)

    April 17, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    L’abri has made a positive impact in my life to relate Christianity to my daily life. Still remember one student saying ‘the toilets in L’abri smell clean & nice’. Many thanks to Edith for opening our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us.

    • admin

      April 18, 2013 - 10:39 am

      Thanks for reading and responding, Raymond.

      Gary Brumbelow

  3. Anna

    April 5, 2016 - 10:59 pm

    This has been a cool find. My husband and I live and work at L’Abri now and live in Chalet les Melezes. I was searching online for a quote by Edith to add to a lecture I’m giving here and came across this. I recognized the name Darrow Miller because some years back, we took part in a Discipling Nations book study at our church in Ohio. Worlds colliding, happily. Thank you for your kind words regarding Edith’s death, almost exactly 3 years ago.

    • admin

      April 6, 2016 - 6:57 am

      Thanks for the note. Marilyn and I lived in Chalet Bethany over 40 years ago. Our oldest son’s first year was in Bethany and his first word was “cow” as cows passed our kitchen window every morning. Hope you are enjoying your time at L’Abri as much as Marilyn and I did.



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