What I didn’t realize was how deeply entwined are the concepts of hospitality and housework. Keeping a home is an extension of hospitality, not in the way we might think of it as occasionally entertaining guests, but as a way of life. It’s not so important to have a magazine-perfect home or spend hours on end cleaning, but taking the time to clean house, clothes, and people; to make a meal; to make comfortable spaces — these are vital tasks.
I dabble. This is partly to do with a lack of focus and, at times, plain old laziness. But sheer curiosity holds the lion’s share of this scattershot creativity. It’s not enough to enjoy a good book — I want to write good words. To drop five bucks on the counter for an artisan loaf of bread or to savor a craft brew and not experience the process is to leave something incomplete. A question remains unvoiced.
Mending is neither glamorous nor easy, but I’ve discovered it can be a calming antidote to the frantic pace of my everyday life. It requires me to stop in the middle of commitments — a day job and a marriage and freelance assignments — and commutes to focus on one small, tangible thing. There is satisfaction in threading a needle with just the right color of thread and making tiny, precise stitches to close a hole or hold a seam together. I’m always amazed by the strength of those stitches and the sense of accomplishment I feel afterward.
From our hastily packed bag, I pulled out the tattered green copy of the book we had been reading as a family. Curled up tightly on the hospital bed next to my pale, tired boy, I flicked through the yellowed pages to find our place. Yes, that was it. A pile of neatly arranged feathers, topped with two carefully crossed crow’s feet and a beak, had been found in the center of the barnyard. Jinx the cat had been framed. As we read together in that hospital bed, what took place was a holy alchemy. Ordinary words on paper were transformed into extraordinary glimpses of hope.
A seed. I have wondered, is it dead? It is in so many ways a remnant of something good that was before. A fruit or a flower that has already spent itself in glory. A seed is the remains, fit only for burial.
A seed, small and dry, should be shrouded and cast into the soil. But it is not dead.
Nor is it yet fully alive.