We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.
It seems overnight that we went from hearing it will be highly unlikely the coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) will affect many in the United States to seeing cases spring up like wack-a-moles all over the place. It is enough to make one want to stop listening to the news... if the never ending election season hasn't already caused you to watch Andy Griffith reruns instead.
I'm taking it seriously and even though I already had food in my pantry, I have stocked enough extra groceries and essential non-food items so that we could remain in the house if necessary. I even bought a case of ramen noodles! What can I say... I live in a university town so they are only $2.50 for a case (and the noodles without the MSG loaded packet are actually quite good).
I talked to my husband this weekend and we agreed we should very soon avoid crowds, instead we will run errands when needed in the early hours of the day. I often do that, anyway. He canceled a nonessential medical test at the large VA Hospital to be safe.
Otherwise, I did make one very important purchase to help my immune system this week. I bought another $1.99 bouquet of daffodils at Kroger. My first flowers were just beginning to wilt. I usually don't put a vase of flowers on the coffee table in the Living Room but that is exactly where the bouquets have been sitting. Their sunny disposition is the kind of contagion we all need at the moment.
Recently, I was talking to my husband's doctor at the VA and he explained how some soldiers develop PTSD. We often think of one huge traumatic event but quite often it is being in harm's way for long periods of time that can damage the fight-or-flight response each of us has.
As it turns out, the same thing can happen in any long term stress situation. However, if the stress is managed properly, it helps prevent trauma. Mary Berry wrote in her wonderful autobiography that unlike many people who were children during the bombings in WWII England, she doesn't have traumatic memories.
Her mother made their home a pleasant place even during the war and when the sirens went off and they had to take cover, she made a game of it. I don't recall the details but it certainly worked. She said while the war was obviously very disrupting to their lives, her parents made life as normal as possible for their children.
I love to read about home life in Great Britain during WWII and so many books have shared that truth, which is that our homes can be a place of peace and beauty in the midst of the world seemingly falling apart around us.
I can think of no books that remind us of this more beautifully then Goudge's The Elliot Trilogy, especially The Bird in the Tree and Pilgrim's Inn. In both books, the people who lived in the homes realized they could become places of great peace in the midst of difficult times and in both books the houses brought peace to the inhabitants as well as those who visited them.
For some people in today's society, the role of home maker (or maker of the home) is no longer considered important. It is viewed as a life of drudgery with a poor woman living her days doing laundry, washing dishes, and constantly running after toddlers.
All of those things are certainly true but for a person who takes being a home maker seriously, there are so many creative ways to spend her days. For she realizes that she is the heartbeat of the home, the thermostat so to speak who decides what the atmosphere of her home will be like.
If it is a home that is her canvas of creativity, filled with prayer, kept fairly clean but with that lived in clutter of something cooking in the kitchen or kids playing in the backyard... one senses it immediately. There is peace in a home with an open Bible and music in the background. I often think of how Ruth Graham kept her Bible open in her kitchen to catch some reading now and then when her five children were young.
All this to say that we live in very uncertain times. It doesn't have to be a pandemic to bring about anxiety for there are wars and rumors of wars, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, economic downturns, health concerns, political squabbles, and multiple other opportunities to fear waking up each morning.
What an opportunity for our homes to be a place of hope and peace in troubled times, an oasis of faith in a world of anxiety. That doesn't mean we do not ever worry, it just means that we have learned to give those worries to the Prince of Peace and try our best not to take them back again.
As I write, I have my mother's vegetable beef soup simmering on the back burner of the stove. There will be dishes to wash, a floor to sweep, kitties to feed (including the outdoor kitty), and a couple of other daily duties to complete before I can relax for the day. But I think it is in the everyday tasks that we can take comfort and give comfort in a time of turmoil.
It is a time for pondering Psalm 91 and a time for prayer and a time for the washing of hands.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
Recipe for Life by Mary Berry, info... here.
The Bird in the Tree, info... here.
Pilgrim's Inn, info... here.
Psalm 91 NIV... here.
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.
Image: Family Circle by Lee Stroncek