Friday, September 10, 2010

on the other hand

A new post is owing about how I had to cancel my appointment for today (somehow I forgot I had to work today) and about how, in fact, Dr. L/C emailed me back the day before yesterday (yes she provided my thyroid results - but she seems to have no idea who I am).

However, I'm not going to post about that now. I'm going to post happy things (even if they're frivolous. Better to be happy and frivolous than unhappy). I may also post about henotheism, which is not frivolous. I promise there is a good reason for this.

So I have more or less despaired of the fulfillment of my housing dreams, of late. Nothing seems to work out and there's little new of interest (even though I should be sitting pretty to end up with a great house). But my nesting continues unabated. (Indeed, the house-nesting strongly suggests that the more natural baby-nesting is well able to translate itself to new fora when stymied in the first.) So I'm obsessing about items for my house right now.

For example:

It's really leather, with just a wee bit of wear. And my DH has complained for ages about how the white-painted chair I have for the desk is too small and insufficiently comfortable. He might have gone and bought one of those black contemporary office chairs that I do not love. So I had to buy it. It was the right thing to do.

And then visiting a girlfriend in Ohio, I saw a wicker-type chair at an estate sale. I don't generally like wicker, but this isn't what you're picturing. I had tried to buy an identical one around here through craigslist but wasn't able to make it there to pick it up. So when I heard this one was $25, into my car it went. Sadly, I don't have a picture. Soon though.

Oh yes. And you probably know that I've been looking for an armoire for ages. I wanted a good price. And something antique. That would fit on the wall and in the car (SUV). With lots of room for blankets (what it will store). And one of just a few styles that I really like. I wasn't all picky and insisting on a beveled-edged mirror; I'm not a prima donna, people. Tomorrow, I'm driving out to pick up this:

Yes. I know. I am disgustingly impressed with myself. (I hope I am not punished by being unable to pick it up, or the seller being a serial killer. That would seriously put a damper on my enthusiasm.)

And, in a demonstration of my extraordinary self-control and fiscal responsibility, I have not purchased either of these items (the pictures won't post - very very bad), though I confess that I may still buy the latter item (or at least this one).

Furthermore, though it had not occurred to me before, I think a peach wall color for a guest bedroom might be an absolutely perfect idea. If there were a lot of white molding (maybe even some wainscoting?) and the ceilings were really high, of course. See:

Maybe wallpaper could be incorporated - something like this? You know, because Farrow & Ball is so affordable. (It may be time for one of my forays into lookalike wallpaper.)

What else is pretty? Well. Aren't you glad you asked. I am outrageously charmed by this, for reasons I can't well explain:

And on that same subject, this is potentially very useful information for a certain select demographic to which I belong. I may buy one. Haven't decided.

So what's henotheism (as you can see, this is the perfect transition)? It was explained to me by my professor, a Reformed Rabbi, when I took Introduction to Judaism in college. The explanation got fuzzy in my head, so I looked on wikipedia. I think wiki lacks something of my prof's nuances, but here's the basic idea. Monotheism means you believe there's one god. A polytheist believes in many. Monolatry is when you believe that there are several, but one is the best or highest (Zeus in the Greek pantheon might be a good example of this, and I think Hinduism has something similar - not sure). But henotheism means that you believe that there may be multiple gods, but one is proper to you.

My prof said that the Old Testament shows the Israelites in transition from henotheism (there are lots of gods - Baal, Molech, etc., etc.), and they really exist, but the god proper to Israel is God (YHWH), and He happens to be the best god. Toward the end of the OT, you see much clearer statements of monotheism - the belief that there aren't any others. (I take his point about the evolution of language and symbolism in the OT, but I'm not necessarily convinced that the Israelites ever believed that Molech existed. Obviously, I wasn't there, but I can see a symbolic reading of the language. Anyway. Not my point.)

Another thing my prof said, which wikipedia does not mention, is that henotheism has strong geographic implications. If you believe that some particular god is proper to you subjectively, without being the best god objectively, there has to be a reason - an objective reason. National or tribal identity is certainly one possibility, and that's more or less the possibility that fits: YHWH was the God of the Israelites. But geography could also be a reason, and my prof said that this played a role with the Israelites - and explains why the Babylonian Exile was such a profound tragedy. The Israelites were being taken away from Israel - not just the land their God had promised them, but the land where their God is. He is not accessible in Babylon. That's why they have to come back.

With me, everything ties back into houses. That's why I started trying to dig up these definitions again in the first place. God exists, of course, outside of space and time. He doesn't have an apartment in Jerusalem, then or now. But He had given the Israelites to understand that it was essential they remain in, or at minimum return to, the promised land; and the Exile was a particular punishment for infidelity; and that land was, after all, promised by God specially, presumably for a reason.

I'm not concluding that I need to start a real estate search in the Holy Land. But I am thinking a lot about what's implied by a geographic location that's proper to God, and one where He wants His people to be. The NT places no emphasis on living any place particular, of course; and St. Paul was sent as the apostle to the Gentiles, so that everybody, living everywhere, could hear the Gospel; and Jesus Himself said that "foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head." The new covenant readily accepts the lack of many things that were considered essential under the old. Not having a home of my own may even be an additional cross I'm to carry. But I've been intrigued by all this business of a home, and Jerusalem the mother of her people (the city itself gets a lot of maternal imagery in the OT), and a promised land, lately. Time was, those concepts were important even during the earthly life. They may not be any longer; my time might be far better spent thinking of a home in the next life. But I haven't puzzled out the whole business yet, and I will keep thinking about it.

For me, home is essential, the Important Thing of which children and family were all to be a part. It may be the most important thing I needed for my adult life. It's certainly been one of the hardest things to reformulate in the absence of the life and family I expected. And I contine to feel that somewhere, hidden in the depths of ancient texts and random notions on the internet, is a path to having that all-important home, in the right way, and a meaningful way, regardless of the childless circumstances in which I somehow ended up.

In the meantime, I shall buy antiques. That look nice. And not too expensive.


  1. That armoire is envy-worthy. And a peach guest room? Who would've thunk it? It's gorgeous!

    I'd never known about henotheism before, but that is rather interesting. And I like how you tied in the mentality of what is subjectively proper to you at this point in your life. I'm seeing a shift, myself... and I wonder if it's really a good thing or not that suddenly I'm more joy-filled because I'm consuming myself with "material" things of this world rather than obsessing about the things that are truly important (family, kids)?? I'm not implying this is true for you in any way, I just struggle with that thought for myself. God's will baffles me all the time. How it is He would rather see me purchasing a house and throwing lots of money into fixing it up rather than raising children to love and worship Him is beyond me. But I'll go along with it.

  2. Congrats on your great finds! Those are beautiful :)

    I'm intrigued by your musings about "home" especially as we are frantically painting, decluttering, and packing so that we can list our house for sale - and once it is sold (hope & pray we get that done quickly and for a good price) - then we will be searching out our new home - apartment, house with a unit we can rent, fixer-upper ... no idea where our next home will be. Hubby is talking to a couple of recruiters, one of which is out in Regina (a province in Canada in the midwest) - that would be a big move away from family.

    Hmmm .... home will be something to ponder.


  3. i'm interested in theories of home and i addressed them, to some extent, in my graduate work. i read this post as 'the misfit' (what a fitting name, then) describing herself as being in a diaspora. for infertility is a lonely place and, paired with your house-hunting ... well, as you describe it, you're searching for a way home. i hope with all my heart that you find it.

    i love this post. you're a great writer.

  4. I love that "fainting couch". So great.

    I love our house, and when we have company over it feels so wonderful to be able to entertain in the space, to be able to fit guests in our extra bedrooms, have enough room for everyone to stretch out and relax and enjoy themselves. But, when we're alone, just the two of us, I end up feeling like the house is mocking us - all of these rooms with no children in them, a nursery space that will never have a crib in it, the playset outside that never sees a child swing on it.
    I wish we had bought a smaller home. It might have made it easier to see one empty room, as opposed to three, and I think we would have enjoyed moving to a larger house once we were bursting out of the seams with our family.
    Anyway, I'm not trying to discourage you from anything (even though it might sound that way), your post just made me think of how excited we felt when we bought our house and how much promise it held for our future...and how disappointed we've been in the years since. We knew we were infertile when we bought it over 3 years ago, but we were still really hopeful...

  5. P.S. The armoire and I are home. :D

  6. Love, love, love the armoire!

    The shower curtain is from Target and is one of the plastic ones, and the leaves are printed on in white. I love the way it looks, even though I did not want a plastic one. I still have a liner in there anyway, to protect it.

    And now, since you and I are so popular, I completely expect Target to now be sold out. :)

  7. I love, love, love the peach guest room. I'm tucking that little nugget away for later use.

    Your thoughts on home are beautiful and intriguing. I'm coming back later, when it's a bit more quiet, to re-read it at leisure.

    P.S. I'm finally decorating the problem room. I'll post pictures when I'm through.

  8. Love the idea for a peach guest room and I may have to copy you on that idea next summer when I am off and have the free time again. My guest room needs a rehaul a bit anyway. Love the armoire!

  9. Love the armoire, and the leather chair.