April 13, 2011

Finding Peace at Home

An old Chinese proverb states, "A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home."

That's debatable, really. But the general concept about home is true.

A home is something special. What's the difference between a home and an encampment?

Purpose.

An encampment is purely practical. Its purpose is to be a place to sleep and eat.

A home, on the other hand, is a place to rest. Not just to get a rote night's sleep- but to be refreshed physically, mentally, even spiritually. It's a place to be nourished. Not just to gobble down physical sustenance- but to enjoy fellowship around a meal particularly produced with your tastes and wellbeing in mind.

When I married my sweet husband, I unwittingly created a purpose statement for our home together. I promised him I would "be diligent to make our home a peaceful, pleasant retreat." I really did. In my wedding vows. In front of God and everybody.


I hear of people going on retreats all the time. They pack bags, drive a while, and go somewhere new to get away from the business, the rush, and the stress of life. They go to find a peaceful place of refreshment. I want my home to be like that. I want going home every day to be something my husband looks forward to. I want him to know that when he comes home he will find as much as possible of rest and nourishment, and as little as possible of stress and demand. I want it to be his daily "retreat" from his labors elsewhere.

Not that home is the place where we do nothing. Quite the contrary- home should be a place of productivity. However, true productivity does not require stress, clutter, or being in a harried hurry. In fact, studies show that productivity rises when those factors are absent.

Cultivating a Life of Repose

Some folks speed through the best years of their lives in a race toward the American Dream- a big home, the best of automobiles, and whatever material goods their hearts (or their children's hearts) could desire. Generally, once those goals are obtained, they also entail extra maintenance, bills to pay, and the chaotic clutter that results from simply possessing too much. Not to mention a complete lack of time in which to enjoy it all.

I've seen that life and I don't want it.

I would rather come home to a small, simple home that is comfortable and refreshing than a "Dream Home" full of extra stresses. In fact, even beyond my home, I'd like for my entire life to be nourishing, in a sense, and refreshing to others. Have you ever spent time with someone whose personality was like a breath of fresh air? In my life, those people are the ones who are calm and encouraging, who are rarely in a rush, who prize relationships over prosperity, and whose lives reflect clear purpose and careful priorities. I want to be like that.

A repose.

But living a life of repose doesn't come naturally in our culture. We're a society of stressed-out, worried, discontent, always-in-a-hurry kind of people. I'll have to work at cultivating repose, both in my home and in my life.

This quest isn't about striking gold. My aim is striking repose. Come along?