Summer of a gracious home

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“It’s the season of mothers!” the bright pink ad declared. I smiled. Well, maybe I smirked. In my mind, I was editing. Perhaps it is a season to celebrate mothers, I thought, but there is no such thing as a season of mothers. Motherhood is a vocation — a holy calling — and it is the call of a lifetime, not limited to society’s little box. It’s not an item for a list of life goals. It’s not just another endeavor to pursue. It’s the beckoning of the Holy Spirit to a path of sanctity. It’s an invitation to create a haven for a family where souls are nurtured and God is known. With motherhood, comes the call to create home. I think that Mother’s Day might herald the beginning of the “season of home” for women.

And just as every woman — those who have children who call them “Mom” and those who don’t — is called to nurture other human beings, every woman is graced and gifted by the Spirit to create and to share a home. As the pressing obligations that come with the end of the academic year come to a close, this is a beautiful time of year to consider how to share intentionally with both family and friends a beautiful place where hearts are known and belonging is offered. This is not about Pinterest or Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens. It’s about sanctuary and sanctification.

It’s true: we all breathe more deeply in a place of order and beauty. It’s true that we are better able to welcome people into the midst of our families when we’ve taken the time and care to learn and nurture the skills necessary for hospitality. And it’s true that in society’s current sarcastic acknowledgement of our “messes” it’s tempting to shrug off the call to make home a place of gracious welcome. Don’t fall prey to the indifferent shrug. God is the ultimate host and he yearns to make hostesses of all of us. He wants to imbue us with his spirit — a spirit that generously opens to residents and visitors alike a place of holy refuge.

Summer is a perfect time to create such a place and to resolve to carry out its mission of hospitality. This call to service is nothing less than the living out of the Gospel. A woman “must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way” (1 Tm 5:10). Your summer doesn’t have to be one party after another, but it can be a season set aside to create welcoming spaces in your home and to invite people into them.

Begin with your kitchen. Do a big purge — rid the pantry of stale boxes, wipe down the refrigerator inside and out, give the cabinets a straightening. Then, light a candle on a clean, uncluttered countertop and sit to create a meal plan. Include at least one meal that mostly can be stored in the freezer and pantry so that you can answer the slightest whisper of the Holy Spirit when he says, “Invite them in for dinner.” Taco meat and beans cooked ahead of time and frozen, pantry goods for embellishments on the shelves — all that’s left is a quick trip to the store for fresh toppings.

It’s not fancy, but it’s good, and it allows you to welcome people to the table where memories are made and God is known. Meals around a table seem to be the first casualty of a disconnected modern lifestyle. Can you help make family dinners regular again? If you do, and you invite someone else to join your family, you’ll be amazed at how thankful people are for what has become a novel experience.

Preparing for overnight guests also can be as simple as it is sweet. As long as you have a clean set of spare sheets, a fresh towel, and a simple basket of bedside goodies at the ready, you can move a child out of a room for a night and offer a place to stay to a traveling friend. Look at your home through the eyes of a visitor weary for respite, not through the eyes of a critical perfectionist. What can you offer that makes this the place to sink into grace and mercy?

As you envision this haven through those eyes, make a list. This isn’t a Fixer Upper makeover list. It’s a simple one-thing-at-a-time, make a home by the grace of God list. Commit that list to prayer. Ask God to show you your home through his eyes and then to grant you what you need to make his vision for welcome and refuge come to life inside your four walls. Let this be the summer for being ready to entertain angels unaware (Heb 13:2).

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

   

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

@elizabethfoss