Well, hello again. I wasn't expecting for a whole week to go by before I posted. Some weeks just manage to disappear on me like that. It amazes me how it happens. It's just little scraps of life…a couple loads of laundry here, a project or two there, feeding, bathing, rocking, talking with, playing with my littles and suddenly it's nearing midnight. I saw that coffee sign the other day at a local gas station and busted out laughing…but then I sighed. How true it is of our culture today?
I think that is why I have been musing over some of Andrea's posts at the Flourishing Mother regarding the Sabbath. I also just finished Keeping House:The Litany of Everyday Life by Margret Kim Peterson. It's not some prissy housewifery book about the Proverbs 31 woman…it's more a meditation on what our everyday means to God. It's a book, that, while reading, I would often stop and quote something to my husband and we would both nod our assent to how succinctly she expressed a longing in our hearts, and sparked hours of discussion. This passage, in sum, is a good snapshot of the rest of the book:
The Christian story of redemption, in other words, is a story that moves from home to home. The journey from Eden to the New Jerusalem is one that is characterized by exile and pilgrimage, to be sure, but also by shelter on the way. Such shelter is necessary for creatures like ourselves, not just for our bodies, but for our whole selves. What man or woman or child can remember Eden or for Jerusalem who has never had any temporal home at all? The practicalities of housekeeping-cooking, cleaning, laundry- are among the things that ground our existence in the particular times and places in which we live and in so doing make it possible for us to keep alive the memory of our first home in paradise and the hope of our ultimate home in God's new creation.(p17)
She contrasts the "cult of domesticity" with the reality of what homekeeping is- essentially never done and always imperfect. Its very repetition (the laundry, the laundry!) is what forms its meaning- a lived out litany of sorts (a litany being a repetitive form of prayer following a certain pattern). The cult of domesticity implies that you can have it all, be it all, and have a perfect house to boot, that is never sullied by everyday dirt and creative messes. This "perfect housewife" is an incredible danger to Christian women, in my mind. There is no such thing. Each of us is uniquely fitted by God to our current calling as a woman. And not every one of us is a mother of many and a stay at home wife! To imply that any of my dear friends who are childless or husband less or work are less in worth to God than I am is preposterous. We are all precious in His sight, and He desires relationship with us, no matter our station.
I also loved this passage:
A household has to be tended if it is to flourish and grow. Housework is never "done" in the same sense that gardening is never done or that God's providential involvement in the world is never done. Housework and gardening and God's providence itself are exercises not in futility but in faithfulness- faithfulness to the work itself, to the people whose needs that work serves, and to the God whose own faithfulness invites our faithful response.
Work is also incarnational. When God comes to the aid of his sad and broken creation, He does so not in some abstract way, simply willing for people to be healed but keeping his distance from the messy reality of their lives. On the contrary, God comes to live among human beings as one of us, including all of our bodily messiness. Redemption is profoundly, essentially physical; the Jesus who shared, and shares, your humanity and mine lived and suffered and died on our behalf. (p.39)
I've enjoyed deeply the thoughts of Anne Voskamp, who's Holy Experience byline is "laundry, listening, and liturgy". It's become a kind of thought process in my head of late—this "laundry, listening, and liturgy" has been a quiet act of prayer. I pray that God would "teach me to count the days, and make the days count" as Chris Rice sings. That my meaning would come from God alone first, from His words, and His precepts, and not from the latest self-help book or worship song, some to do checklist from some magazine or blog. "In Christ alone, I put my trust, no other is enough." I must remember this.
Joy, I love Peterson’s book. Her writing brings such joy to the ordinary of life, which is where we live day to day. Sure there are highs and lows, but mostly it is just the ordinary with which we interact.
Her chapter on meals was so good. There have been so many times that I have dreaded going into the kitchen at 5:00pm and starting supper like I have done thousands of times. But remembering that we feed our family’s souls as we feed their bodies puts it all into perspective.
Thanks for sharing these things.
Loving this! Very few folks have truth about God being in the everyday ordinary stuff of life. For some feel as though they have to do or be just so to feel Him or hear from Him, we don’t though, we must just be, be who we are and He is in that, all of it— so grateful for His presence and power to fill my soul in some of those—laundry, more laundry moments in addition to the no, no, nos and perfect messes with my two “men”. Its so funny you brought up the P-31 woman as so many folks i know have been talking about that lately or blogging about her…
Thanks for sharing this!