The two girls were both wearing pretty dresses with thick sweaters, their mother equally dressed for the interview. The apartment was comfortable with soft furniture, pillows, pretty pictures... not a lot of space but plenty of charm.
The mother talked calmly about the situation in Tokyo and how she was concerned for the future, the girls missed playing outside in the park each day. Instead they played board games and spent time together indoors as a family... all three calm in their sweet apartment as they faced an unknown future (Father was at work).
Already food was limited and the very air they breathed in fear of becoming contaminated. But there was peace and courage and a gentleness wrapped in the knowledge this family would face together what was to come.
|Flowers on a summer day|
I was reading through some Victoria magazines this past week... old and new... thinking on this theme of Beauty in the everyday. Man was born in a garden and has an inherent need for Beauty. There is something about a bouquet of daisies in a canning jar that strengthens the soul of one who has been suffering. The scent of an apple pie brings with it the anticipation of good food and fellowship... in the midst of trials and tribulations.
Life is never "all or nothing", we need to continue (to what extent possible) in creating a safe harbor in the storm for those whom we know and love. It doesn't take a lot of money but it does require someone putting thought into the creation... perhaps as we knead the bread or wash the teacups or set out milk & sugar in their pretty containers... we are also teaching the next generation to show grace in the midst of an uncertain future.
While serving tea or hot chocolate with simple cinnamon toast may not seem like much for now but when a child must economize as an adult, isn't it good that they have fond memories of inexpensive treats? If they spent early years learning to appreciate simple food on a daily basis with the occasional Feast Day... instead of expecting fancy food each evening... they bring with them into their adult years a proper expectation of the everyday as well as the Feast.
What brings Beauty and Peace and Grace is often unique to each family. I have been in homes in which music played together brought unity. Another homeschooling family we know play video games together! When Christopher was younger and his Dad traveled a great deal, I watched his favorite cartoons with him... which is why the Transformers can bring a warm and cozy feeling within... not what one would expect at my age! ;)
In our home these days, bookshelves filled with books yet to be read as well as old friends awaiting another visit brings contentment. Pages in various cookbooks have been tagged with index cards where recipes waiting to be tried soon are located. The sight of Victoria Kitty with her nose pushed up to the glass can always bring with it a smile... or seeing her curled up at Christopher's feet when he's not feeling well.
The porcelain garden of floral plates, platters, teapots, and teacups in the china cabinet provide flowers inside as the snow falls on the backyard. The decision to turn off the electric lamps and light candles (and perhaps oil lamps) brings with it an old fashioned calm to the room.
Preparing the onions and carrots for soup in my kitchen filled with yellow and red accessories can bring a duo joy... that which comes from my surroundings and the feeling I experience as I am cutting and chopping vegetables as mothers for millennium have done before me.
Rarely does a perfect day reach this family. There is always... something... which can remove the Grace and Peace... always health and financial concerns, dealing with the one who is not thinking clearly at times, extended family trials and tribulations... and much coming in from the outside world adding to uncertainty of the future.
Having prepared a place of Beauty and Grace has not taken away the challenges of life... but it certainly has provided a safe harbor in the Storms. It reminds me of a quote I heard about the French and their appreciation of "the good life"... that only the French could transform a food they had to eat in poverty (that being snails)... and make it a gourmet treat.
So much of our journey in this life is out of our hands but that which we can control... our decisions, our attitude when things go wrong, making the decision to trust God rather than letting the seeds of bitterness take root, serving hearty soup in a pretty bowl with homemade bread on the side... instead of complaining there is no money for steak, searching for Beauty while Trifting, choosing to be thankful for what we have... all coming together to provide the safe and cozy harbor in the crazy world in which we live.