Recently as I was putting clothes in the dryer, I found myself basking unexpectedly in domestic bliss. During the previous few minutes I’d scooped stray Legos into my shirt pockets (the domestic uniform has to include pockets as one’s hands are inevitably full of one’s charges’ stray bits, laundry baskets, errant shoes, homeless papers, and the like), deposited them in the Lego bin, put the 8 loaves of cooled bread in bags and put them in the freezer before getting the dinner’s meat out of the freezer, given instructions for dishwasher emptying, tidied the dining room, wiped the counters, stopped to listen to and then cogently answer the 8 year old’s question, and put away the ironing board and cooled iron from the morning’s wrinkle-eradicating. In the ruminating I enjoyed a measure of satisfaction that I seem to enjoy only occasionally in midst of my work. I am more often thinking about the next thing, worrying over the last thing, wondering over done or undone things. NOT basking in the present or remembering the Divine-in-it thing.
That such contentment may be had as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 5 still surprises me. In younger days I fancied myself a Peace Corps worker, author, orphanage builder, professional musician, college professor, hippy, rock climbing instructor… You get the drift. Whatever my aspirations were, suffice it to say they could be construed as slightly more dynamic than my present station.
Now. It’s hard to say whether such moments come as a result of something I’m doing or as a result of an “up” mood swing, but at that moment, the good feelings in my work felt to be the result of better working. The rhythm of things and my functions – unremarkable though they may seem in this endless cycle of maintaining/restoring order – felt in that moment like they’d been choreographed, practiced, and then executed with epiphany generating precision. The moment was profound enough – and I’d had it before – but this time it translated to something potentially tangible as something worth sharing. Improved ways of doing things after 18 years of cooking, cleaning, mothering, wife-ing (new verb?), living, seemed worth sharing all of a sudden. So my bright idea was to start a new blog called “What Works.” It could include any day to day helps I may enjoy in the hopes that such bliss wouldn’t be lost on just me but extended to others. It occurred to me that maybe others struggle too to enjoy strings of domestic bliss. That it pleasantly surprises me when I’m pleasantly surprised amidst the day-to-day functioning… I don’t know. Just seemed/seems worth talking about, worth improving upon.
Somebody has to do the mundane. Not everybody gets to be the Pope, a professional athlete or an actor. Somebody has to go to work and collect a paycheck to support the missionary who has all their bills paid by somebody else. Somebody has to turn the 6 year old’s underwear right side out, sit at the desk and answer the phone for a mind numbing 8 hours, teach the thankless students in a classroom day after day, pound nails in the sweltering heat or freezing cold. And though many of our spaces may not seem big, bold, or beautiful, I hold that there are enough tinges of quality that we can tease out beauty. It’s everywhere. It’s my eyes that don’t see often enough, and I’ve noticed that how I see translates directly to how I live.
And I live forgetful. I live like I haven’t tasted beauty, and it both shames and frustrates me. And then I just give up trying like the Sesame Street guy banging his head on the keys bemoaning, “I’ll never get it! I’ll never get it!” or distract or anesthetize myself away from fresh starts. I want to see better. Be better that I may then do better. This sounds like an inside job, and one in which I have not historically succeeded .
I got to thinking that maybe domestic – or any – contentment has less to do with mechanics and more to do with my state of mind which I also tend to think is inextricably bound to the state of my heart, er, soul, if that word’s more comfortable for you (I think they mean the same thing?). What I mean is, it occurred to me that the world does NOT need another blog about homeschooling or how to remove soap scum from the shower. These things are constantly evolving and being improved upon by others waaaaay more capable than me. But living better from being better.. This extends to all. It’s the red satin ribbon that weaves through all the muck.
Not everyone has the eyes or the inclination to hunt for it. God gives that. For any and all the improvements I may enjoy in terms of my day to day functions, I still struggle woefully and tragically to live a life free of regret and full of joy and overflowing with love. But God has given me Himself – wonder of wonders – and I want to honor His gift better. The only contribution of mine worth sharing is that He’s chosen to share Himself with me. And that means everything.
I have not posted much in recent months, and though perhaps the reasons matter, what’s been matters less than what will be. Maybe what I’m going to try is in honor of the new year, or maybe this is a tiny step toward maturity. I’m (for once) actually acting on an idea. I am notorious for enjoying great flashes of light but am woefully poor at follow-through. So in honor of the new year, and in honor of trusting Him more in it, I am going to try something of an experiment.
I’m going to keep the notion of “what works,” but under the old umbrella of wordskeepmesane. Because in the telling of my struggle with desolations and enjoyment of consolations, words may do just that: help to keep this otherwise struggling person a little more intact, a little more effective, a little more joyful, and hopefully, a lot more loving.
In past years, around January 1st there’s been a word that’s stuck out as something needful for me to grow in, understand, be a little more aware of. This year, and in keeping with the above, that word is… Jesus. The word that keeps us sane. As models go? None better. What works? Jesus. I can’t imagine a more worthwhile pursuit than trying to more wholly follow Him, be like Him. He’s the only person ever to have been above reproach by pretty much everybody. (Except the religious uptights which no one takes seriously anyway.)
If you’re a person who finds yourself frustrated too often, dead-ending, not living a life you’re proud of or satisfied in as frequently as you’d hoped, I hope you’ll join in the conversation (with me would be great, but I just hope you’ll join in with anyone!) about what it might look like, this “how-to of better being”, so to speak. It’s a new day/It’s a new dawn/It’s a new life for me/and I’m feeling good” as Michael Buble croons (maybe a little more lightheartedly than I mean, but I’m not opposed to that).
So wordskeepmesane will remain true, but the delivery may look a little different. Thanks for being here – ever. And may we all improve upon that which matters most. I hope you’ll walk with me as I desperately try and walk with Him… And I hope you’ll enjoy your own steps towards the light that’ll purify all the spaces.