☕️ Home Invasion

A Saturday Caesura

Our house was invaded last week. Strangers arrived and made themselves at home, and while I was (am) happy to have them, their presence left me feeling not at home in my home. It’s interesting how our lived-in spaces become such an extension of ourselves that changes niggle and unsettle us.

When I say that the ‘invaders’ are an antique dining room set, a multi-place setting of Royal Albert china (Old Country Roses, complete with all the accessory serving dishes, a bell, and shoe-shaped toothpick holder), crystal, stemware, silver, and table linens (actual linen linens), I know that eyes will roll — first world problems, get a life already and all that.

And I understand; this dis-ease in my own home, a home that is generous, warm, secure, and not lacking in any device designed for comfort and ease (except a dishwasher), is not even close to real discomfort. I know this.

The issue is that I am not a china-crystal-silver kind of person. I never have been. My mother-in-law is, and these new arrivals are hers. They felt right and proper in her home, but here, among my basic white Corelle, Pyrex, and mismatched accessories (not to mention my feathers, pebbles, bird nests and dragonfly wings), they feel ostentatious and decidedly not me.

So I’ve been compelled to adjust to a new home-persona (for lack of a better way to describe it), and in the process I’ve pondered a couple of things.

One of them is how the juxtaposition of china tea sets and old milk cans and bird nests and glass covered-cake-stands is not unlike a family with its eclectic mix of personalities, preferences, and perspectives. Families may share homes for a time, but individuals don’t necessarily experience life the same way. And then we add new members and become members of other families, each person bringing a whole self to sit alongside other whole selves just as flawed, quirky and unique. Feathers and crystal. Pebbles and silver. Sometimes we don’t seem to fit together at all…and yet, we do.

And that leads to the other thing. My mother-in-law loved to create meal experiences for her family. At 92-years old, her kitchen glory days are over, but her presence and legacy lingers in these ‘invaders’ of my home. Just as she preferred the baking pans used by her mother, treasured the porcelain tea cup hand-painted by her Aunt Charlotte, and served meals on this same dining room furniture inherited from her mother-in-law, I can eat a bowl of soup from her-now-our-china knowing that the only real value in all of these objects is the memories and the people they represent.

So while interior designers would have a hard time defining my home decor because it doesn’t fit any recognizable (or popular) category and they would be mortified to see bird nests displayed in crystal fruit nappies, I’ve come to embrace the revised feel of our home because it even more fully represents two things I love: God’s created world in all its intricate beauty and the indescribable gift and legacy of family.

PS If you ever come to visit, I promise to thoroughly wash the fruit nappies before I serve dessert.

🌾 Rumble and Chug

In this prairie place where I live, old farm machinery testifies to the tenacity of generations beyond our ken. Forget regal statues and impressive monuments to mark history. Give us some rusted metal contraptions of various sizes, shapes, and purposes and we can find our roots entwined in there somewhere.

While the massive combines and specialized equipment of modern farming are impressive, what I am most fascinated with is the cockeyed arrangement of gears and chains and wheels and belts that somehow all worked together to make this old threshing machine rumble and chug and separate wheat from chaff.

That this unglamorous, boxy, metallic conglomeration even had a useful function seems unlikely. That its functioning depended completely on the contribution of even the tiniest gear cog speaks to both its ingenious design and its vulnerability.

The metaphors for living in family and community are not lost on me. As ungainly and disparate as our interconnectedness may seem at times, we need each other: a simple truth with all the complexity and intricacy of an old threshing machine. This, too, speaks to ingenious design and vulnerability.

But oh, the grain-like goodness we can thresh, the chaff we can winnow out, when we all cog and sprocket and pulley at the speed and rotation we were individually designed for.

Let’s rumble and chug, shall we?

🌿 Resting in Peace

~for Justin

When peace like a river attendeth my way

Oh what joyful delight flowed the day you were born

When sorrows like sea billows roll

And then. That day flooded with deep, deepest despair.

Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say,

And today. Your birthday. With waves of emotion leaving me worn,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

but oh so grateful for all the days we could share.

#JDC#33

#30daysofpoetry #day11

*”It Is Well With My Soul” lyrics by Horatio Spafford.

11. Memory Day

Today I extract the memories with care
Perhaps this year they’ll be easier to share

Memories

vivid and valued
fragile and fading
precious and painful

But once they lay on the table before me
adequate words to express them simply flee

So I enfold each one in love anew
and tuck it gently away from view

There is a place deep inside
where these treasures will always reside

A place where grief and grace meet
the rhythm of this mother’s heart beat.