When my oldest son turned two, I made him a three-car train cake out of banana breads baked in different-sized rectangular loaf pans. I even carved out a space for a Teddy Graham conductor in the engine.
As I was crafting it, my husband and dad made good-natured jests on my progress. Once they were in another room, working on their own project, my mom leaned in to reassure me. It was okay if they didn’t get it, she told me. This was what mattered.
What she meant was not that I had made something Pinterest-worthy (I don’t think we knew what Pinterest was then), but that I had spent time and effort to create something that would make our son smile and that he would eat with delight. Something that would make him feel special. Something that told him—in quick bread—how much I love him. Even if he wouldn’t necessarily remember this particular celebration later in life, that act of love was going to make a positive impact on him.
The Spiritual Nature of Home
My mom’s sentiment that day eight years ago came back to me as I reflected on Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking by Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering, with photography by Kim Baile with Dori Greco Rutherford. What I was gifting my son with that train cake was an expression of what it is to be home. And now I can see that there was a powerful spiritual element at work in it that too often flies under the radar.
As I read this book, it occurred to me (editor that I am), that the text could have been printed as a typical 6-by-9-inch paperback, all black and white. Instead, it’s this gorgeous hardcover, filled with intentional, beautiful photography that begs you to slow down and appreciate the work in your hands. There’s a wonderful interplay between the words and the images, so that the form and content together convey more deeply the message of this book.
That message is the far-reaching value of generously inviting those around us to fully belonging in our homes.
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Realizing the Importance of Home
This year, most of us have spent a lot more time in our homes than we used to. Remember when toilet paper was hard to find? One theory I’d read to explain that suggested that many people were so used to spending the majority of time outside their homes, they didn’t know how much their families or roommates used in a week!
When toilet paper isn’t an issue, there is something lovely, familiar, and comforting about being truly at home. We all long for it in one way or another. But perhaps we aren’t all aware of how to build that, how to engage in what the authors call the “spiritual art” of making a home.There is something lovely, familiar, and comforting about being truly at home. But perhaps we aren’t all aware of how to build that, how to engage in the “spiritual art” of making a home. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Perspective, Not Prescription
This book doesn’t give specifics on how to do that. You won’t find interior design tips or recipes for brunch. That’s because this book isn’t a how-to; it’s a why.
Why do we need to recover this art of homemaking? What purpose does it serve?
First, we need to expand the idea of what “homemaking” is. It’s cooking and cleaning and folding laundry, yes, but more importantly, it’s the heart behind all that. It’s about being fruitful and receptive, generous and loving. It’s about making space in our lives to serve others, especially those closest to us.
The seemingly mundane tasks of homemaking have gotten a bad rap in recent decades as mindless drudgery. But when we add a spirit of service and a love for others back into the equation, we start to see a celebration of what it is to be feminine, what it is to discover and live a variety of vocations.
Home is for Everyone
As I read, I wondered which of my friends I would share this book with. It resonated with me because it is written from a Catholic point of view and often makes reference to marriage and biological motherhood, all elements of my vocation. But I also appreciated the ways in which it reflects on spiritual motherhood and the positive ripple effect of homemaking that extends beyond one’s family.
Homemaking is about welcoming, loving, knowing, and seeing the other within the home, whether that’s all day, every day, or in the time that’s not spent working outside the home. When the authors speak from experience, they don’t make known whose voice is being expressed. And when they invite other women to share their stories, they are women with a variety of experiences.
Ultimately, this book isn’t about specifics; rather, it’s a rallying cry to start valuing what’s worth valuing in our lives, and so properly ordering all the rest.
Have you read this book yet? What was your biggest takeaway?
BIS Reads // Theology of Home II #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift up the contemporary woman to be all she was created to be. She’s the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God, as well as shorter nonfiction and fiction pieces, both online and in print. With joy, she speaks about recognizing God’s voice and living the truth therein. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-
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