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The craft of homemaking

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I recently went on a house-hunting excursion. For someone who has invested three decades in pondering home, creating a home, and writing quite frequently about the power and presence of home, looking for homes might be an invitation to overthink for me. To wander from room to room in a disembodied building and imagine life in its bones is certainly opportunity upon opportunity to reflect upon what a woman envisions when she imagines a house becoming a home. 

Whether our home is a one bedroom studio in a high-priced city or a hundred-year-old farmhouse with stories to tell, our instinct is to take creative ownership of it and thereby breathe life into it, willing the walls to come awake and to become familiar enough that we welcome their embrace. 

Kitchens, I find, are especially essential to fueling the imagination for homemaking. It doesn’t matter much to me if the appliances are the latest and greatest. Is there light there that will both warm and enliven on a February day? Do the countertops stretch for a length long enough to enable us to work side-by-side, she peeling apples and me slicing them? Can I imagine wanting to be in this space for an hour after the meal has been eaten, just holding onto the threads of conversation because filling our hearts at mealtimes is every bit as important as filing our bellies?

Does this home have rhythm? Are there quiet corners that beckon to become places of beauty set aside for moments that punctuate the day and the night with prayer? A home is a house that understands that its mission is ultimately to shelter souls. And of course, houses don’t think for themselves. They don’t even truly nurture people. It is the homemaker who does this. 

Homemaking is a craft; it is a holy offering. It is what we do when we take a white space and make it into a prepared environment that both quickens hearts and soothes bodies. Home is where the bounty of the earth becomes the substance and sustenance that genuinely fuels the life of a family. It is where the day begins in a quiet corner predestined for its holy task. Cozy quilt, plump chair, smooth and familiar beads—the heaviness of sleep lifts slowly lifts from eyes widening to the day ahead as the Blessed Mother wakes the weary to cadence of oft-repeated prayers. A sacred sanctuary, this space will be here later, when the need to be enveloped again brings discouraged laborers back to the touchpoint. It will be a place where wisdom is sought and imparted and beauty is respected and protected. Even more than the kitchen, the heartbeat of a family pulses forth from this place of prayer. 

In the incessant noise and busyness of our increasingly connected world, home calls to be a place set apart. It can be a place that captures and holds and heals our attention, instead of further fracturing it. Homemaking is the creation of a way of life that restores peace—that deliberately enables us to move more mindfully in love, in our care for one another, and in the rhythm of prayer which ceaselessly undergirds it all. 

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

@elizabethfoss