Thursday, August 27, 2009

personality #319

I would add as a disclaimer to my last post that I chronically exaggerate, but nobody is paying me any attention anyway, which is just as well.

I now write with a musing in a different direction. Not purely because I'm that mercurial; I had provocation.

On the ride home from work I read the morning's prayer (I'm behind). Today is the Feast of St. Monica, so the verses include a general endorsement of Christian motherhood (St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine, who lived a generally dissolute life long into adulthood. She was famously told by St. Ambrose, who refused to lecture the wayward Augustine, "It is impossible that the son of such tears should perish"). The morning prayer included Psalm 113. Which in turn includes,
From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from his misery he raises the poor man
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his people.
To the childless wife he gives a home
and gladdens her heart with children.
I note that it has been several years since I have read such words and interpreted them as a sign that I personally will have children. There are a lot of loopholes in there anyway - my heart could be gladdened, for example, by looking at Anne Geddes pictures (and in general that does gladden my heart. I find her charming). Of course there is a temptation to read the last two lines in chronological order - first I'll get the house, and then the children will come.

But this brings me to what I see as the really important point here. If a wife is childless, no question that children for gladdening purposes will need to be provided in some fashion. But you can be wealthy and childless, as our culture amply demonstrates and the Old Testament faithfully recorded (Hannah, Sarah, and Rachel would all be examples). So you can certainly be childless and own a home. Nevertheless, the psalmist is clear that the childless wife is to be given a home (that one, being more literal, has fewer loopholes than the gladdening bit). As I see it, this can only mean one thing:

God knows I need a house.

He's right, of course. His time might not be occupied with provision for me to have a clawfoot bathtub specifically, for example (though I think I can probably 'help myself' with the assistance of ordinary grace as far as bathroom fixtures are concerned), but it's been years and years that the yearning for home, more subconsciously and later consciously, has been part of my life. It was near an obsession for a long time - not buying a house (that's more a hobby/obsession and a little more recent), but having a home. I never sorted out why I should be so passionate about this (maybe something to do with a very tumultuous home life growing up), but it did lead me to assert confidently my strong opinions on matters such as the importance of snow and good architecture. One belongs in a certain place, and one ought to realize and embrace that.

And ultimately I wanted a specific location to be home, home that would be safe, and welcoming (to me and everyone else), and joyful, and stable as a compass point - always, wherever in the world or in your life you are, there it would be, orienting you throughout everything: home. The abstraction of which always having freshly baked bread coming out of the oven is a small concrete manifestation.

I knew this, because wandering through my head dozens of times a day at points in my life, plaintively in the hardest points, has been the phrase, unbidden: I want to go home. But there was nowhere to go. I feel this less pressingly lately, but I hear it still; and I know that in the middle of, say, a trying workday, I don't, specifically, want to drive to my house. There's something else, possibly including or maybe beyond that, that I'm reaching out for. I'm not over-investing in home ownership, I don't think; I don't believe that the specific act of buying real property will make all this change. Some added something on my part must be contributed as well, I'm sure. But I think it will be a start. And I am comforted that in that conclusion I am joined by (my interpretation of) holy Scripture.


  1. I was struck by the reflection on St. Monica today too. Are you able to join us on Saturday morning? I hope you can make it!

  2. I sure hope that God has that comforting home in store for you sooner than you might imagine (of course God's timeline is sometimes different from ours....but we know that deeply already!)!!! I am worse than you as far as that Psalm (one of my favorites)...I *always* interpret that as a nudge that I will personally have children! ;-)

  3. I certainly wasn't ignoring your last post...just didn't know how to comment. Or if I could really say anything at all. I'm a non-practicing Catholic, you see, so while I understand your frustrations with your husband, I also have experienced the difficulty of believing. And my DH wasn't raised in any religion, so it just doesn't come up at all.
    In any case, I was sorry to hear that you were unhappy and needed a break from him - marriage is definitely not easy and then to throw a religion difference in there...well that's pretty tough.

    As far as this post goes - I hope God does want you to have a home. And children.

  4. First off, in regards to your last post....if the Feds ever have need to confiscate my computer they sure are going to get a kick out of my history here on the internet. Not only do I (frequently) look up "early pregnancy symptoms", but now I have added "hysterical pregnancy" to the mix.

    This passage always gets me too. Somewhere else in the Psalms it also says "the mother of many languishes, while the barren wife bears seven sons." Ha! Take that fertiles! (How is that for Christian Charity?)

    But our great hope is that God will restore all things to us...if not in this life, He certaintly will in the next, where our true home lies.

    I cling to and fight for that hope.

  5. I'm a strange one - don't want to own a house, but know I have to. At any rate, I hope you find a home soon.

  6. I always longed for a home, too, since I grew up a military brat living in temporary, rental houses. When we walked into our current house while house-hunting, it felt like home to me, which was the strongest thing that recommended it, since it was covered in ugly wallpaper and gold carpet over the hardwood floors. I just wish our home was in Virginia, not the Midwest. Oh, well.

    I love Anne Geddes, too, but she was soooo not enough to gladden my heart pre-Evie. God is faithful. He will gladden your heart with real babies, and then you can put your own infant in a flower costume some day.