Sunday, March 08, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Cultivating peace in turbulent times

We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.
Winston Churchill

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 are Associate links.
Image:  Family Circle by Lee Stroncek


Suzan said...

My mother was born during WWII in Yorkshire. She has some very strong memories. While my ex MIL complained about being hungry and cold: my mother meanwhile says they weren't hungry and that her family worked hard at putting food on the table etc. Rationing remained a fact of life until the early 1950s. When my mother's family moved to Australia it was a land of promise and of plenty even though food was expensive.

I stopped filling my pantry about 6 months ago because we were wasting food. Now I regret that decision. But I believe we have enough supplies to last the 14 days of quarantine if we need too. Actually we could last longer but the government rations how many prescriptions one can buy and that is set at 28 days. Our pharmacist will deliver tour home as the family lives about 1 km from us. Australians have gone mad and are hoarding toilet paper. There have been physical fights and police have charged some when for their out of control behaviour. I guess the message is clear stay home and be sensible.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for your encouraging words and the reminder that we can make our homes a sanctuary of peace in troubling times! I’ve been reading Ps. 91 and Ps.121 in different versions. Have you read them in the Passion Translation?
Laura C.(WA)

Anonymous said...

I loved this blog post! I, too, am a homemaker, and all of the news and what's happening can
really get to a person. I want my home to be a home of peace for me and my husband and our
kids who visit. My home reflects a lot of creativity, for both of us, and he and I really need to be who we are, and not be scrambling because of current events, nor worrying.
I've read your blog for several years, and you always do my heart good! And, I ordered
those Elizabeth Goudge books, because I want comfort reading during these trying times.
So, thank you. And, next time I am out, I am buying myself some flowers!

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I think we could live at least a month, but I wish we had a generator...We have well water and it needs electricity to run the pump.
I absolutely agree the the everyday things of our lives are what make a home a haven.

Deanna Rabe said...

I must look for Mary’s book from the library. She’s delightful!

We must be wise, and I think you are being wise, with an autoimmune disease to take extra precautions. During the greeting time at church today a woman said to my husband, “Oh! Are we shaking hands?”

I’m preparing for quarantines if they happen.

Cheri said...

Calming, peaceful advice. Thank you.

We, too, are preparing to shelter in. Hubby has stage 4 cancer so he will definitely be staying home. I will go out only if necessary.

I attended our libraries semi-annual book sale and bought 15 books for $3! Plenty of entertainment to be had there. The hardest part is deciding which book to read first. Then there are seeds to start, craft projects to finish, new ones to start, thrift store clothes to alter, etc.

I will be teaching a Bible study in May so I can work on that. My piano has been neglected lately; that provides us with hours of entertainment!

Sheltering in place might not be so bad after all!

Debbie Nolan said...

Brenda - such a lovely post. Homemaking to my thinking is one of the greatest creative endeavors we women can pursue. Keeping peaceful when the whole world has gone crazy is definitely not an easy feat but one worth pursuing. Keep well friend. Have a blessed day. said...

An episode of Andy Griffith is on the to do list now! Comforting words.
I always shop for a 2 week period because I dislike it for every week. Keep the stress at bay when possible.
Thanks for sharing.

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

Such a lovely post! Blessings, Pam in Norway