“Housekeeping is home’s daily chores of faith, hope, and love. It doesn’t hold out for what might never be. Instead, it wrings good from what is.” -Jen Pollock Michel
I reach for a book, wipe dust off the top, pile it on the previous one, and reach for the next. Once I clear a shelf, I dust it then replace the books and move to the next bookshelf.
Summertime spring cleaning.
I remember my mother teaching me to keep house, my father, too. Dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, washing, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms and kitchen, wiping down ceilings and walls, cleaning out the refrigerator, breezeway, and garage, weeding the garden, picking berries and vegetables, and in winter, shoveling snow. Chores that my parents could have done themselves in less time and with better results. But housekeeping was not the only lesson.
My parents also taught me how to make a home.
In Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home, Jen Pollock Michel writes about the welcome of home: the longing we have for homes we’ve left, the ones our parents made and those we established for ourselves and our families. Whether we stay put or move, we realize that homes on earth are perishable.
Keeping Place is also about work: routines and rhythms, burdens and benefits of home. The author writes, “…housekeeping is about cost—the cost of following a homemaking God, who bids us to make a home for others in this world… As ones who know the Homemaker and his promise of home, we take up embodied, emplaced work as God’s people: in our families and churches, our cities and neighborhoods. We labor for the sake of love.”
Many of us fall in love, marry, and take up the everyday task of marital housekeeping: forgiveness. Pollock Michel writes, “In marriage ‘I’m sorry’ is just as important as ‘I do.’”
We also take up housekeeping in our churches and neighborhoods. At home in community, we say grace and feast together. Then we rest. “To practice Sabbath as a commitment to regular rest is to let God love us apart from our efforts and contribution, and it’s the housekeeping of rest that enables us to value the humanity in others.”
Each day, Keith and I have our homemaking routines: cleaning, cooking, reading, writing, networking, tending to ourselves and the dogs. Keith makes coffee, and I work in the yard, enjoying the rhythms of nature—today’s Bee Balm in bloom. We love sharing our home with family, friends, and neighbors.
Making home. Wringing good from what is.
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