Mother as Place

LL's hand at Laity Lodge

Reading Robert Farrar Capon, I am struck by his odd mix of traditionalism and bold, controversial insight. Today, his thoughts on Mother warm my heart. He says...

To be a Mother is to be the sacrament— the effective symbol— of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by a long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the extended sense that she remains our center of gravity through the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered, and have our wounds bound up and our noses wiped. She is geography incarnate, with her breasts and her womb, her relative immobility, and her hands reaching up to us the fruitfulness of the earth.

As a mother who both travels (is mobile because of a writing career) and who is yet deeply involved in the home, I find this statement both comforting and challenging. It reminds me that I want to maintain a level of boundaries— not to be gone too often while my children are still here. It also makes me smile, when I think of the simple offerings I can make. Food on the table. A comfortable home. A smile and a hug to begin and end the day.

In the end, the task is not simple, nor can I ever be the perfect sacrament, the ideal place for my family. So I like this final word from Capon... if on some distant day, the smell of fresh bread can still break their hearts, I do not think that all will have been too hopelessly lost.

God help me, if I am going to break their hearts at all, to break them in such lovely ways.

LL at Laity Lodge Photo, by L.L. Barkat. Quotes from p. 62 and 29, Bed and Board, R.F. Capon

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Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Interesting. If mothers are our home in some kind of literal way, then what does that make fathers?

1:15 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Housekeepers, of course. :)

(No insult there btw. In my next book I spend a little time talking about God as the ultimate Housekeeper.)

1:19 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

oh, l.l.

so, so true.

next time i see my mom (tomorrow), i will throw my arms around her & thank her for being my geography incarnate, my diagram of belonging.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

God help me, if I am going to break their hearts at all, to break them in such lovely ways.
That's just lovely.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Butterfly Mama said...

So beautiful...

1:35 AM  
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12:23 AM  
Blogger Jenny Jill said...

This post makes such sense to me. I changed jobs, homes, city => small town, to care for my ailing mother. It was no wonder that I entered into a depression. I was living in a foreign country, as it were. We fought over her care regime, she wanted no help. It makes sense to me now, having written and thought long and hard over it. I am going to do a blog post - thank you for the cue!

12:26 PM  

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