A Hopeful Table: Home, the Miracle Place

I'm a big believer in dreams, but sadly can't always remember the night's dreams. Sometimes i'll wake up with more just a feeling from the dream instead, or a phrase will be there. The other morning, woke up with "make this a miracle place" as i looked around this little home here. And boy are miracles needed now! I won't bore y'all with the details, but its been tough to say the least.

So...making home a miracle place. Well, i sure don’t think we "create our own reality" or any of that nonsense. We are not God, and shouldn’t pretend we are, we cannot create miracles. But something about "making a miracle place" on the other hand, has really stuck. Something about beautifying one's place, about making it more prayerful and peaceful, it really does change something i think. It doesn’t create a miracle, but maybe it helps us to somehow believe in miracles once again. And that's definitely no small thing.

In one of my favorite posts ever (yes Ann, i'm quoting this one yet again lol) it gives a sense of this. From

"All once was perfect, ordered, pristine, back there, In the Beginning. In That Garden. But not now. Not in this house, not in this garden. Science may call it entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, the wearing down of all systems, the measure of chaos. I call it what You call it: sin and decay, and my daily battle. Weeds, dirty laundry, piling dishes, dust collecting...this is life after the Fall.

Yet, in small ways, I return to You and the Perfect Time Before when I order, wash away, sweep clean...beating back the chaos, the powers of destruction. Simple acts of cleaning are my humble, conquering efforts in the quotidian struggle between chaos and order, creation and disintegration, God and Death.

Deliberate, ritual motions maintain an easy order. Easier than wresting order out of invading chaos. And a tidy house ushers in the possibility of a tidy heart. A heart beating with Yours, in a place more like that place In the Beginning.

Is this housework a picture of entering into Redemption? To bring restoration to that which has fallen...

I frame this cleaning as my monastic beauty, my daily wrestle, to create, in imperfect ways, a world for these loved ones... like You created so perfectly for humanity when the world began...."

Truly, something about ordering and beautifying brings us back to that original beauty and innocence a bit more, that fairy-tale-ness....and that returns to us that fragile and precious hope in the miraculous. A hope that anything is possible through He who loves us, if it is His Will. And He truly has our loving care at heart. Now if that isnt miraculous : )

I've found myself turning to the sink/stove area more lately, tending the "
kitchen sink shrine". One of the joys of this little place is all the vintage tiles and things, so the sink stove area has been really cleared lately so all the tiles show. And in the lattice work alongside the stove (this is hard to describe, its kind of like lace in feeling but made of white metal and glass, another really sweet vintage touch in this little trailer) are various favorite holy cards of the Holy Family, a little crucifix, a bluebird feather. The funny thing is, the more that area gets beautified, the more i truly long to be there more and more often, looking out that kitchen window, and out onto the water. It’s the same little window i cook by, the same window i wash the dishes by. It’s the same window the blue heron flew right by recently. Its the same window that will come with me even when i move (since i live in a trailer, it happily comes along). And the thing is, its always been here, just waiting to be part of "home, the miracle place".

Our own little kitchen sinks, the stuff of prayer places and fairy tales and miracles? Well why not : ) ? Our Matriarchs in the OT had their wells, we have our kitchen sinks. God was alive and miraculous back then, God is alive and miraculous today. He is everywhere, even in our humble little kitchen sinks. And i thought i'd gather today some posts that have really inspired in this area.

First, from
Kitchen Madonna, i love this so much:

"Great saints of the Church have known that God may be found while elbow deep in suds and dirty dishes. Saint Teresa of Avila claimed that "The Lord walks among the pots and pans." Her spiritual son, generations removed, Brother Lawrence, a humble, 17th century monastery cook and clean-up guy, is famous for his conversations with a learned bishop about how to practice the Presence of God while washing pots and pans.

Simply put, Brother Lawrence enjoyed his life in the kitchen, especially the lowly, menial tasks because he was constantly lifting his mind, spirit, and body in prayer. Especially while he did the dishes. Doing all things as unto the Lord, as if for the Lord, transformed his kitchen sink into a kind of holy of holies. No wonder the other monks, monastery visitors, tradesmen from town, the bishop, and others who heard about his saintliness gravitated to his kitchen. It was a place of joy and peace.

Finding the sacred in the everyday is as simple as doing the tasks before you with great mindfulness, not worrying about the overdrawn checkbook or tomorrow's meeting. Losing yourself in the task at hand, simply put yourself in the Presence of God, letting go of any distracting thoughts as they invariably surface. This is what is classically known as the discernment of thoughts, what the Church offered centuries and centuries before that secular gift known as cognitive therapy. Constantly return to the trust and peace that comes with abandoning yourself to Divine Providence. In time, you won't notice how long it takes to wash the dishes because you will have entered Kairos or eternal time. God's time.

Of course you may make yourself pleasing to the Lord by praising Him and by interceding for others and yourself. And if someone wanders into your kitchen with all of this going on, true charity naturally requires dropping it all and being receptive to their hopes, desires, and needs.

I don't know exactly when the window sill above my kitchen sink became a shrine. It started off with a saint card here, a printed prayer card there, especially prayers I wanted to memorize like the Memorare or the Divine Praises or the Anima Christi. I've written out Bible verses and put them there so I could memorize them; in time, the ink usually drips with water splashes. There is the miniature tea set given to me by my best friend, and I think it serves to remind me of our many discussions over the years about what it means to be a daughter of the King and other feminine mysteries. Sometimes a statue of a saint but always a crucifix. Now there are some dried roses hanging upside down and suspended with silk ribbon.

And of course, when one steps back a foot or two from the sink, there is an ever-changing tableau of dishes that changes much like time-lapsed photography and with the position of the sun. An offering of clean dishes with the new day. Breakfast dishes and then lunch dishes that may or may not get cleaned up right away. But certainly a pile of pots and pans by sunset. And somebody - if you are lucky - hungering to find some peace and joy in your kitchen."

And from
Very Calm is this lovely relection:

"I suppose most of us spend more time than we'd like at the kitchen sink but it happens that the view through the window beyond mine is quite pleasant...Time doing mundane chores is oftentimes a good time for ponderings. I noticed that the bluebirds, which apparently are somewhat used to seeing me on the other side of the window, happily enjoyed their breakfast (while i watch them), quite unruffled by my intent amusement.

Helen Steiner Rice's well-know poem came to mind, one I often prayerfully consider as I work:

God, teach me to be patient
Teach me to go slow
Teach me how to wait on you
When my way I do not know.
Teach me sweet forebearance
When things do not go right
So I remain unruffled
When others grow uptight.
Teach me how to quiet
My racing, rising heart
So I may hear the answer
You are trying to impart.
Teach me to let go dear God
And pray undisturbed until
My heart is filled with inner peace
And I learn to know you well!

-Helen Steiner Rice"

And them there's this precious poem that was hanging right by my grandmother's kitchen window growing up....and i'll bet in so many other kitchens as well:

By Cecily Hallack or St Teresa

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I've no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with thee,
Or dreaming in the twilight or
Storming heaven's gates.
Make me a saint by getting meals or
Washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha's hands,
I have Mary's mind, and,
When I black the boots and shoes
Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth
What time I scrub the floor,
Accept this meditation, Lord,
I haven't time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with thy love,
And light it with thy peace,
Forgive me all my worrying
And make all grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food
In room or by the sea
Accept this service that I do
I do it unto thee."

Gotta go, that cozy corner in the kitchen beckons. And i know to some that will sound odd indeed...but really, it does. After all, it's here at home, the miracle place...

(Image from the article
All things Are Possible, and the second image is simply a close up of the church outside the kitchen window there, just love that)

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