Space and light and order. Those are the things that people need
just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.
A couple of images of civilized life, to cheer me up on a day when the feeling of living in a storage unit is growing like a heavy and darkening cloud. While waiting… and waiting… for the situation to change and the cloud to pass, I try to peek out from under the weight of disorientation and distraction to remember some little things I have the power to do, like laundry and cooking.
[Update already: Please not to worry – it’s only the feeling of being a storage unit, not actually living in one, that I am experiencing. It’s because my remodeling project that I expected to start in February has still not started!]
The aprons are my own, and now Elizabeth’s dishes are, too. Her son gave them to me after her funeral that was in the spring. I think they are pretty, though they don’t seem to fit with the tone of my house…? I will put them aside and think more about that when I am reorganizing my new rooms that I still have faith will come into existence before the end of the year, and my three other rooms that in the meantime are stuffed and unhappy.
Aprons and clotheslines — and sunshine! — go well together. 🙂
With my youngest daughter Kate getting married in just a few days, you’d think I’d have precious little time for writing here. And that is so true, which is why I’m mostly passing on some more gleanings from my recent readings. If you ever pray for bloggers you don’t know, add me to the list this week!
1) Leila writes about some of my favorite things in her post Housewifely. I specialize in ironing and wearing an apron, but the other things are also high on my list. She writes, “When you put on an apron, you do not merely protect the garments. You also announce your commitment to the task at hand, your willingness to suffer the slings and sputterings of the pots and pans, your resolve to see the work out to the end.”
I wish I had written this post. Sometimes I think I could write a whole book about aprons alone, and how practically and symbolically they are so significant to my own homemaking. I don’t only wear a apron in the kitchen, but to clean house and dig in the garden.
Aprons were one love that I shared with my now-departed friend Bird which is why I made her a new apron at a time when she had no obvious need for one. Bird and I knew that she did in reality use one, as a way to keep herself on the continuum of the woman she had always been.
“Start dating after you are ready to get married, and date people you can actually see yourself marrying, as doing otherwise is typically a colossal waste of time. ”
“A good marriage is intentional and dating should be too.”
“And none of them live in magical fairy tales; no matter how it’s arranged a relationship always involves confusion, mistakes, and heartache. Crossed wires are built into every human interaction. ”
3) This article on acedia I found to be revealing of all the many ways self-love manifests itself. Fr. Aidan Kimel quotes a 4th-century desert monastic on the eight fundamental passions or thoughts; acedia is central.
“Frustration and aggressiveness combine in a new way and produce this ‘complex’ (that is, interwoven) phenomenon of acedia.”
“’A despondent person hates precisely what is available,’ Evagrius writes, ‘and desires what is not available.'”
4) The last thing I offer you, which was most helpful to me at this time, is Father Stephen writing about Comforting One Another, which is also about comforting ourselves — or rather, not comforting ourselves. You see, we try to comfort ourselves by running away from the heartbreak or pain and suffering, running to pleasures that we think will ease our hurt. They often bring us further pain. We have to make ourselves not run away, but turn to Christ and let Him truly comfort us by His being and presence.
“For it is when our hearts are broken and do not run away or hide that we can call on God to comfort us. And He does….That comfort is the gift of His own life within us, a sharing of His own joy and love.”
From about 1930 my friend Bird spent a lot of time in a closet turned into a sewing room, stitching away at shirts and dresses and whatever was needed to keep her twelve children clothed. All of them were born before I was, and Bird is now 99 years old. I didn’t get to see her on her birthday last September, but shortly before that I paid a visit and was concerned when I saw that Bird wasn’t wearing an apron.
New and old fabric compared.
She doesn’t do much cooking or cleaning anymore, though she lives by herself in an apartment. She wears an apron because she has tied one on every morning for most of her life and she doesn’t feel right without that part of her attire. I knew all that, so when she was lacking the essential garment I asked what was wrong.
Her apron was so tattered, she said, she didn’t want to wear it when she was having company. Oh, yes, she did have a newer apron that her children had bought her, but it didn’t fit right. She brought it out of a drawer, and I could see that it was way too large, made to accommodate the great number of our generation who fill more of an apron than our grandmothers did. Though I didn’t have a measuring tape, I took some measurements from the old favorite, using a sheet of paper for the ruler, and when I went home I drew up a proper design, thinking I could make her one. But nothing came of my idea for a long time.
Without shame, I returned to visit last month and found Bird in the oversized apron. But knowing that I would be returning to her city in about three weeks, I asked if I could take her old apron with me this time, to use for a pattern. She took it out of a drawer, clean and neatly folded, though unusable, as the neck strap was broken through.
When I returned with the old apron, I looked among my stacks of fabrics and was amazed to find something that resembled what I imagined the old apron had looked like before it faded. My piece of Guatemalan fabric had been bought to fix a mistake I made in measuring for a tablecloth fifteen years ago, a tablecloth that never got made at all. So the fabric waited around, being the perfect replacement for the old apron, until all the parts of this story came together.
Today was the end of the story, or the beginning of the life of the new apron. I managed to meet my own deadline of this day, when I went to an appointment in her town and dropped the apron off beforehand. Bird was very pleased. She tied the apron on immediately and said that she felt properly put together again.