About Cultivating the Good, the True, & the Beautiful

and Lancia E. Smith 


 Cultivating the Good, the True & the Beautiful stems from the scripture verses Philippians 4.8-9.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

When the Cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful website was launched in 2007, it started out as a solitary effort by one person intent on offering encouragement, inspiration and a resting place for others. Over the following 10 years the site has gone through massive changes in its appearance and reach, but that core purpose has remained the same. Cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful is dedicated to nurturing spiritual maturity and creative excellence in believers engaged in the arts. 

The design and purpose of the website for Cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful is to provide a welcoming place to restore, renew, and reinforce the individual. It is a private place of quiet where you don’t have to answer questions, engage in anything more challenging than looking at beautiful images or reading short pieces of Scripture or essays. This is a place to rest mind, heart, and soul. It is also a place to teach and reinforce the practice of choosing what we focus on in our daily living and walking. It is a place for contemplation and to be reminded what is good, true, and beautiful.

Who I Am

My name is Lancia (pronounced Lawn-see-uh).  I am a well-married wife, a mother of 7, and a nana of six. I am the founder of Cultivating the Good, the True and the Beautiful and The Cultivating Project. I write about brilliant people doing brilliantly good things related to faith, character formation, and the creative arts. 

By trade I am a photographer who has been shooting professionally for better than 30 years. I can say, however, that I am a writer by deepest inclinations. I loved letters and words from before I could use them just as I danced before I could walk. My first mother taught me to read at three & a half, and reading became my saving grace as a child growing up in traumatic circumstances. From my first encounter with each of them, I have held an abiding interest in the works and lives of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald. Most especially Lewis. 

Always of an entrepreneurial bent, my “day-job” involves executive management and being the president of a thriving environmental consulting and engineering firm. It is my honour and joy to work closely with the C.S. Lewis Foundation and, adding to this embarrassment of riches, to be a supporting patron, member artist and advisor for the Anselm Society. I am presently at work on two books: one related to discipling writers and the other to highlighting the lives of individuals who are successfully living out their calling as creatives in community. 

 


 

One of the defining elements of my life is that I have been in recovery from drug-addiction and alcoholism for 35 years. Closely tied to that is the fact that I have lived with and managed chronic depression for most my life. Why tell you that in the middle of an introductory description of me when it would be so much easier and possibly safer to leave that out? One reason is that part of my recovery requires a certain measure of transparency. Disclosure. That part is for me. The other reason though is for you, and it carries the greater weight of motivation for me. You need to know if I am a reliable voice to listen to and whether or not I have any understanding of the “terrain” you are facing and overcoming.  It is important for your sake that you know we share common ground in our human experience – and that while I write about things that are beautiful, true and good, it still isn’t all “sweetness and light”. 

I don’t live in a safely protected ivory tower, anymore than you do, and I don’t have pat answers. Like you, I have a living faith being worked out in my own life on a daily basis. I deliberately cultivate what is good, true and beautiful, not in denial of suffering, but it in response to it. I imagine that you are too, and that is why you have found your way here to Cultivating.

The shadowed experiences and conditions that have been most difficult for me to come to terms with – mixed thoroughly with all the sweetness and joy in my life – are fundamental elements of redemption for me. These very conditions and the experiences that caused them are the reaping field in me for Christ; the bitter, broken places made whole and sweet for His Glory. Out of them He is making something new – beauty from ashes.

It is my prayer that you will resonate with what you find here at Cultivating. May this be a place of shelter for your spirit, encouragement for your daily living, and good company for the journey we share. 

Blessings to you, friend!

 

What I Believe

First and always I am a lover of the Triune God.

The foundation of my being and my world-view is belief in the Triune God who is the Eternal I AM, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of God, that there is no salvation apart from Him – He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

There is no other way to God the Father but through the Son. I believe that He is the Light that has come into this world, that He has overcome the darkness and the darkness has not overtaken the Light. I believe that Goodness overcomes evil and that when this world ends it will end in Day, not night. I believe that God Almighty is the Author and Origin of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and that those three transcendent values represent His experiential presence in this world and a continual stream of His Omnipotent nearness.

 I believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ as King and Righteous Ruler of this world and that until He returns the Holy Spirit is with us to teach us all things, to comfort and to console. I believe that until His return, it is the calling of every believer to “occupy the land” as His representatives. What does that mean practically? To me it means a daily call to live in this world representing God with faithful presence, thankfulness, good cheer, kindness, courage, wisdom and love; in short, to cultivate goodness, truth, and beauty!

When I write about Goodness, Truth and Beauty I am in effect writing about the “vocabulary” God uses to make His presence known to us in intimate and recognisable ways. Those three values have been examined, contemplated, reviewed, debated, and written about for centuries. What I am exploring here is not new.

These are ancient values being expressed in our own times according to the understanding and needs of our age. They are not a substitute for saying that God is God. tweet

Rather they are universal values that can be recognised by all people as transcendent elements to be desired and preserved regardless of their religious background or culture. Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are universally present and form our common ground for connecting over the matters of eternal significance. They are a constant reflection of God’s nature and His abiding company with us in this world. They are the lamp lights on the road Home.

 

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed 

“I believe in one God the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth,

and of all that is, seen and unseen.

“I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.

Through Him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried.

On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and His kingdom will have no end.

“I believe in one Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

“I believe in one, holy, catholic* and apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

catholic (with a small c) means “universal” or “worldwide.”

Kind Words

Lee Wiser Mcintosh

“If you only read one blog in the coming months make it

The Cultivating Project.

Always intelligent, never academic. Graceful writing that is a balm. 

Isn’t that what we really need amidst all the noise? Enjoy.

You can thank me later.”

Diana Glyer

“There are lots of people who take beautiful photographs, but Lancia does something more.

She has the instincts of a mystic, in touch with the seen and unseen at the very same time, and she has the gift of capturing hidden truth on film.

There is something revealing and healing in all her work: as an artist, a speaker, a teacher, a writer.“

Malcolm Guite

“Lancia Smith has an extraordinary gift for asking the right questions and, as on previous occasions, has drawn things out of me I scarcely knew were there.

Steve Elmore

“Lancia is the best photographer I’ve ever known for capturing not just the outward appearance, but the very essence of a person. 

She is able to perceive the qualities of a person that make them better than who they are – their potential, their goodness.  

For someone writing about goodness, truth, and beauty,  I don’t know of a better ability to have.”

Jackie Reed

“What Lancia brings to my life is priceless: inspiration, affirmation, and a challenge to think deeply.  She does this through her thoughtful, consummately interesting essays and interviews… Lancia’s work moves me deeply and awakens my faith when it is most damped down …  like a constantly glowing hearth. 

I am warmed here.  I can return to this site and be refreshed, nourished, and challenged.  In the best possible ways, I feel like I have come home.”

Carolyn Curtis

“Lancia’s eye for beauty is unsurpassed — whether in architecture, in nature, in urban landscapes and, of course, in her fabulous portraits. She is an artist, posing as a photographer… and I mean that with great admiration for her skill with a technology that she has truly mastered.”

Sharon Frisco

Bless you for your incredible posts!

In a world of skim milk, you are the cream!

Charlotte Davidson

This is heart-breakingly beautiful.

If a picture says a thousand words,

that picture says a million. 

 

WHY I CULTIVATE

The word cultivate has particular significance and beauty to me. It not only represents the deep love that I hold for gardening but also in a single word it describes the deepest value of how I choose to live: affirming, nurturing and defending what is Good, True and Beautiful.

To cultivate with deliberate intention is an act of choice, courage and creative hope. It is an act of love and a step of faith. By definition it means to break up hard ground, to prepare for planting, to nurture. By practice it means to choose what I focus on, what I invest my life, energy, heart and strength in, and what I then to pass on to others. It also means guarding against those elements that threaten what I have chosen to nurture.

I cultivate as an offering of worship to our Creator and obedience to Him as my God and King. An essential tenet of what I believe is that good will always overcome evil — even when we do not live to see that in this world, that Light overcomes the darkness and the darkness will NEVER put it out,  that Beauty triumphs over destruction,  that He Who is Life has prevailed over death, and that this great Story we are living in has the very best of endings.

I am inspired by Philippians 4.8 “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” (Amplified Version).

And grounded on Deuteronomy 30.19 – “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live …

Life is good. Cultivate it!  

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