The structure underneath—the bones of the house—are good because someone we trust knows they’re good, sturdy, strong and able to be restored, and they can tell us this and we believe them. And maybe that’s what we’re after all along—someone who comes along to tell us that there is treasure here in our bones, someone who can see the intrinsic value in what others might consider a teardown.
I don't notice the robin making her nest. Neither do I notice when she lays her eggs. I don't know how long she bides her time there, waiting for their hatching. After two weeks of rain, the kids and I come outside, squint in the sun, and find four tiny beaks stretching up from a nest on our meter box. The mama robin swoops in, drops in her food, and then flies to a nearby branch to keep watch. We are mesmerized.
No matter where his pastoral vocation called him—country, city, suburb—Dad found a large vacant lot of lawn or weeds to plow under and plant in long straight rows, ordered in relation to the sun (the corn stalks must not overshadow the tomatoes) and surrounded by winter-squash vines prone to wander outside the frame.
It was not Eden, except in his view.
When I tell people that I am a food writer, they always ask me what I like to cook. I want to ask them if they would ask a film critic to tell them about the movie they are shooting at the moment, but instead I just smile and say, “Scrambled eggs.” That is only part of the truth, but I don’t usually tell them that I started writing about food before I started cooking, creating standards that I could never meet. I do not tell them that fear of failure often means that I eat pre-made guacamole or cheese and crackers for dinner. I worry that this will take away my credibility, even though I know that not everyone who writes about food claims to be good at preparing it.
When I stitch my little felt ornaments, my fingers sometimes get sore. I take breaks and rub them, looking out the window and listening to the sermon that is streaming. “It is perhaps through the work of kind welcome and laden table and warm bed,” the pastor says, “that the church labors most effectively to bear witness to the reality of the kingdom of God and the welcome that we receive in God in Christ.” He is preaching on the book of Ruth. Ruth! I studied it so many times in college, together with girlfriends all waiting for men, for boyfriends, for husbands, trying to glean some insight from this woman who did strange things indeed to secure her man. That is not the point of the book, the preacher says. I breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, he gleans kindness, hope, hospitality from the passages. The kind of hospitality that hems in, honors, and protects everything about the person being welcomed into our lives.