Thursday, October 28, 2010


Beauty is a need, not a luxury. It took me a really long time to realize that and I'm not sure why. I think it's because like most modern day city dwellers, when I thought about "beauty" I associated it with something that could be purchased and owned. A beautiful dress or beautiful things for my house, even a bouquet of flowers from the Farmer's Market. When money is tight (which it perpetually is) it's hard for my practical side to justify purchases that don't have immediate and concrete value.
The problem is that when I am starved of beauty, I am starved in spirit. I get listless, restless and a little depressed. Then I rebel, and usually that involves thoughtless spending that doesn't actually make the problem any better. A cup of coffee while I'm out running errands or a dinner out because I'm cranky and don't want to cook. I'm impatient and occasionally, unkind.
The reason I have associated beauty with purchase and posession, I think, is a longing for permance, a reminder that my soul is made for an eternity this world just doesn't offer. Beauty is a source of hope, comfort and inspiration as I tread on the sometimes difficult journey towards home. It's a gift from God to sustain me on the path, and it doesn't come with a price tag if I am willing to accept it as it comes, in nature, in a gift from a friend or a in a new point of view. Seeking it and recognizing it instead of forcing it. Trusting that tomorrow will bring a different sort of beauty and new experiences that bring me ever closer to home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Home as Sanctuary- Nourishment for Body and Soul

I've been meditating on what it means to create a sense of "sanctuary" in the home. As I said before, with a large family full of tiny children, it's not going to be a quiet, contemplative atmosphere. I don't even think I'd want that. I love the adventure and life that young children bring into a home, the unbridled creativity and humour.
No, if it's going to last, a sense of sanctuary has to be based in reality and it has to be durable. It has to leave room for people to be themselves. We need sanctuary the most when life is the most chaotic and difficult, when sanctuary is the most difficult to maintain.
I think the building blocks of sanctuary are these; nourishment for the soul, nourishment for the body, and of course, a strong connection to God, the sustaining hand that holds us through all of life's ups and downs. Healthy, delicious food shared with people we love, fresh air, rest, prayer, affection, creativity, beauty, selflessness, rhythm, routine and tradition are just a few good things that come to mind. Some of them, many of them, actually, are good for both body and soul.
With this in mind I have decided to start simply by working on cultivating beauty, nourishing my family with good healthy foods, getting outdoors for some fresh air every day, rain or shine, giving real time and attention to our creative endeavours and spending more time in prayer both for myself and with my family.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Year of Hospitality

Last Saturday was the beginning of a new year for me, my 32nd (or is it my 33rd? Yes, I suppose it is.) and with it the beginning of a new intention. This year is to be my Year of Hospitality.

I've been praying and meditating on this theme for a month or so now. It's a departure from my usual pattern, which is to choose a virtue I struggle with and spend a year cultivating it. Hospitality is actually something of a spiritual gift for me, but it's something I feel called to make better use of. This year, instead of just focusing on personal growth I am embarking on a larger project, to sow the seeds of hospitality in my home and community and watch it grow.

I've settled on a four part plan for this year, each part of which I will elaborate on further in future posts.

1. Create a sense of sanctuary for my family. This includes myself. In order to have something to give to the world, we first need a space where we can be renewed and uplifted. I'm not naive enough to think that with three adults, three kids and another baby on the way I'm going to create some kind of quiet, contemplative environment where we can all meditate on the mysteries of life. Four kids under seven years old and under is nothing if not a recipe for a busy house. What I do want is a space that feeds us, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

2. Invite others into that space. I want this to be a place where friends and family, especially the kids' friends, feel welcome and comfortable. As a friend pointed out to me, all kids really need a neighborhood of moms and dads. That is something I grew up with and the benefits of it have been huge in my life. I want to pay that forward.

3. Spread that sense of "home" into the larger community. I talked last winter about my plans for strengthening my community and since then a lot of progress has been made. I think as this process unfolds some really amazing things are going to happen.

4. Expanding that neighborhood good will and kindness to the world at large. Maybe we can "adopt" soldiers to send care packages to, or raise money to build wells in third world countries. I want my family and community to see everyone on earth as "neighbors". In this digital age, that is more true than ever before.

I have an excellent feeling about the coming year.