Longing for Home


Every so once in a while, I read a book that changes my life. Maybe the book wields its power because my life has been drifting towards just this change. Maybe it persuades because it simply makes so much sense and communicates that sense gently and convincingly enough.

This weekend, I think I found such a book. I had come off a week of enforced bloglessness. I had recommitted to Sabbaths without technology. I was feeling both raw and ready for affirmation about the simple life I live... feeding others, cleaning, directing, teaching, moving mostly in a small space that is my home.

A friend had lent me Keeping House. I don't know that I expected much from a book with a title like that. Honestly, "keeping house" has never been one of my strong points.

But it spoke to me. And I will take time, over time, to speak of it here. For today, let it just be this quote, which is a good place to begin...

If we are feeling the ill effects of being spread half an inch thick and going a million miles an hour, the solution is not to go ever faster and be spread ever thinner. The solution is to take a deep breath, identify what really matters, and do more of that and less of other things.

So what really matters? Well, housework, among other things. It is not the only thing that matters, but it does matter. It matters that people have somewhere to come home to and that there be beds and meals and space and order available there. Whether we do a lot of housework or a little of it, whether we keep house only for ourselves or for other people as well, housework forms a part of the basic patterning of our lives, a pattern we might identify as a kind of 'litany of everyday life.'

I read that and it touched me deeply. To keep a house is to provide a home. And we all long for a home. Today, I changed the sheets before I ordinarily would (a good thing, I promise you). I did the dishes and the laundry and tidied and cooked. I did not enjoy all these tasks, particularly the laundry. But I felt a new sense of the importance of these litanies, for both my own life and the life of my family.

It seemed I had, in some small way, come home.

Swing photo by Sara B. Used with permission.

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Blogger Joelle said...

Ah, reminds me of a book of prayers (of which, unfortunately, I can't remember the title) for making sacred the mundane, routine tasks of daily life. I need the reminder that it all is prayer when done in an attitude of awareness. Makes the scrubbing of toilets much more meaningful! :)

8:59 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Joelle, you are too funny (not the prayer book part of course, but the t-bowl!) :)

10:25 AM  
Blogger Joelle said...

It might not be funny if you saw the boys' toilet at school. I'll spare you the gross details. Needless to say, God had to work extra hard to make me feel spiritual each time I heard it calling, rather odorously, my name.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous K. Hileman said...

Knowing you as I do, a piece of this made me laugh out loud. But then I was immediately quieted, because as I continued reading, it felt as if God himself was speaking directly to me.Convicting.
I think I must read this book.
Also, I thought it so ironic that you consider your life "simple", when I see it as so full, so dynamic, so life "giving", so important to so many. Me included.

5:27 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kimberly... yes, I suppose this would have made you chuckle! Because you surely lived it with me. :) (I am curious as to the exact spot where you laughed and also where you suddenly felt convicted.) Between the two of us, you have always been the better cleaner; that I readily admit (as if I need to, as you know the truth!)

SO, SO good to hear from you today, both here and on Seedlings. Does this mean you've got a blog account? Or just a memorable password... :)

5:56 PM  

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