"Her children slept on starched sheets under layers of quilts, and in the morning her curtains filled with light the way sails fill with wind." A few days ago Debra shared this among some of her other favorite quotes from the book Housekeeping. I haven't read the book, but those 25 little words written by the author, Marilynne Robinson, kept coming to mind as I worked in my home today. And, while yesterday was a refreshing day of revealing where I am, today I am continuing to press on to where I long to be...with the goal of serving my family with joy and excellence.
Today I woke up with an extraordinary sense of appreciation for the privilege of being a keeper of my home. As I urged Leah to help me make my bed....because, as I always tell her, "there's just something special about making a bed together with someone"...I pictured, as I always do when I can coax Leah to help me, my grandmother and her housekeeper, Bessie, working as a team, making beds, cleaning windows and, washing and starching and ironing together. I doubt they ever saw any magic in those ordinary days of sweat and toil, but they have become some of my fondest memories of my grandmother. And they often accompany and comfort me as I tackle my own ordinary days of cleaning, as they did today.
I didn't starch my sheets today, but [blush] I did starch my pillowcases. Something within me yearned to do this. Perhaps it was taking the time to notice the embroidered pillowcases my great grandmother made many years ago. How many times have I handled those cases, but today I saw them in a different light. They commanded extra special care, because today I saw them as a work of art gifted to me when I was too young to appreciate them by someone who had skillfully labored with her hands and placed them in my own, hoping that, someday, I would value them.
Today, as I tucked my pillows into my freshly starched and ironed pillowcases, my thoughts wandered back to a time when I was just a little girl watching a porter on a train preparing pillows for the passengers. I gazed in amazement as this burly man managed to competently case the pillows with his big black hands without a thought and wondered if I would ever be able to do that. I had tried many times, without success, and could not wait until the day I could do so with such ease. And so, the normally routine, thoughtless chore of casing my pillows became a delightful act of worship as, with a chuckle, I thanked God for the ability to do something that, at one time, had been such an impossibility.
I am grateful for today, because it was a day that desires were accomplished. And not only accomplished, but enjoyed. Today, I was drawn into that magical place of starched sheets and layers of quilts and light filled windows... the place where I, as a housekeeper, feel most fulfilled and experience a delightful peace, because today I was able to serve my family in the little ways that may, in years to come, make a big difference.