Hello Ladies. Today I want to discuss the dinning room as read in Hallowed Be This House or its alternate title, Splendor in the Ordinary.
A certain theme struck me as I reread this late last night, after figuring out what our Mass plan was for Ash Wednesday. This chapter on the dinning room spoke about the room itself and the happenings there more formally than I would have expected, and yet it made sense–even in my somewhat chaotic feeling life at the dinning table with small children.
Many years ago, my husband had the opportunity to dine with some cloistered monks. After the meal, I asked how it was. I was so excited to hear him say he really enjoyed it. I of course asked for more details, hoping for some supernatural stirrings. He replied it was so nice…no one fell out of their chair, no one spilled the salad dressing or their milk or their brothers water. No one needed their meat cut up or cried because the meat was cut up and they wanted it whole. No one complained or had to be coaxed into eating.
Perhaps for all our zeal in the pursuit of spontaneity and innovation, we are missing the stark truth about what we are: highly ceremonial, even ritual, creatures who move at the tag end of a millennial-long procession of humanity who have all ceremonialized things.
Hallowed Be This House: Finding Signs of Heaven in Your Home
This idea of “ceremonialized” and “ritualized” seem a bit stuffy and cumbersome to me, a mother of many young children. But this is a necessary in their development–spiritually, physically and emotionally.
We were created from the Author of order…not confusion or fly by the seat of your pants or let’s just mix a pinch of this with a smidge of that and see what we come up with. He is a God of order. We are made in His image and likeness so we are a people of order.
I was thinking the other night about some of the memorable moments from 2012. Of course Leo is at the top of the list. But as I thought harder, or maybe deeper would be the word, I thought of a memorable experience related to his birth, or rather his arrival home.
My best friend had come and stayed with the children while I was in the hospital that day, and then my sister came and stayed the night while I was in the hospital and for almost a week later. I can still vividly remember the day we brought him home. The last day at the hospital always leaves me a bit stressed and antsy…ready to get home, but not ready to leave the care available at the press of a button.
The day we brought Leo home, Chris pulled the car into the garage and I slowly climbed out of the back seat of the car holding my new baby son. I opened the familiar creaky laundry room door. The laundry room which had laundry piled ready to be washed when I had left, was now neat and tidy…no trace of dirty laundry waiting. The late afternoon sun was streaming through the back door and windows and it smelled fresh and clean. I continued into the kitchen/dinning room. The kitchen was bright and sparkly and the dinning room orderly. The living room was freshly scrubbed; the sun did not have to fight its way through sticky finger prints left on the back door. My bedroom was clean and neat as well. The blinds were opened to let the sun in and the bed was smartly made.
I walked into a house of order.
And that homecoming felt almost ceremonial as I walked from room to room, christening each room with the presence of a new little soul meant to grow in wisdom and in grace in its confines. My children proudly showed us what they had accomplished under their aunt’s watchful eye. An eye for order that had been sorely missing the last long months of pregnancy.
The recollection of that day a couple of nights ago, pricked my conscience. ”Chris should have that same experience each and every day he walks through the creaky laundry room door.” The world he moves and breathes in is a disordered place. He should come home to harmony and peace.
There are preparations needed for a ceremony or a ritual. These do not have to be harsh or formal. They do need to be consistent. They do need to have for their ultimate good, the message of sacrifice.
The ritual of the Holy Mass, is a ceremony of sacrifice.
The ritual of welcoming guests or more importantly daddy, should be a ceremony of sacrifice.
This idea of sacrifice is clearly established at the dinning room table. Father gave of himself to provide the furnishings and the food. Mother and children gave of themselves to provide the atmosphere of the room and the preparation of the food. This mutual exchange is a reflection of the the sacrifice on the altar. Jesus’ life for ours…our life sacrificed for life with Him. There is an economy at work here, the economy of supernatural sacrifice built upon a heavenly order.
One of my broader goals this Lent is the proper economy of order, not only in my home, but more importantly in my soul.
My life for theirs. A continual recognition of Christ’s life for me. An appreciation of Chris’ life for me. A greater awareness each time my children make an offering of themselves.
**Please go read one of my all time favorite Elizabeth Foss posts on keeping a home, Why Bother?