I've very much enjoyed this study! (follow the link for the index to all the posts, or else look at my sidebar) I think the main take-away theme, that housekeeping is daily and both personal and social, but not for those reasons drudging, isolating or menial, was the main thing I want to remember. Since reading this book, I've tried to look more carefully at the way I, and other people I visit, keep house and what that reflects about their lives and how they think of their responsibilities.
Just in case I have visited you or I ever do visit your house please don't worry that I am looking around with a gimlet eye at stains and clutter and dust bunnies or other possible "frays". As Mrs Peterson says, we are all a little frayed. That is why we need each other.
When I visit someone else's house I usually see that way more clearly than I do in my own house -- the love, care and bits of beauty that come out in ordinary flawed homes with ordinary traces of clutter and spills. This helps me realize how the same things are shown in my home even though I'm often mildly discontented and frustrated with my own surroundings and my own limitations.
This book has helped me detach "care and love and work" from "immaculate perfection and constant striving for the unattainable." Perhaps in that way it helps that the author is someone who genuinely loves keeping her house, even though she is a well educated person who could probably have a very successful career. Her love for the work involved in keeping the house, even while admitting it is repetitious and continual, helps me to see past my occasional "hamster in a wheel" feeling to how keeping house echoes the loving providence of our Father.
The Scripture references especially brought home to me how much God's providence is expressed in terms of nurturing, feeding, providing and preparing food, shelter, and clothing.
I thought I would go into a part of the last chapter that I didn't really get to last week, and also tie into the subtitle of the book "Litany of Everyday Life".
Ways that keeping house is like the sacred liturgy:
It is continuing and ongoing:
The routine never ends, though it is not like a wheel where you end up just where you began. If it is like a wheel it is in the sense of the same elements constantly changing and moving you in the direction you want to go in.
There are daily, weekly and seasonal changes in emphasis and practice.
You do different things in the morning in your house than you do in the evening, and different things on Sunday than you do on Friday.
Some seasons are busier than others.
You can't do everything all the time. It seems best to focus on different things in different sections of the day, week, season or life.
It can seem overwhelming at first experience, but you move into it by participating.
The book uses the example of someone from a non-liturgical church visiting a more ritualized church for the first time. I have had this experience since I grew up as an Evangelical and sometimes attended some Lutheran and Episcopalian services before becoming a Catholic. Getting used to the rubrics took some time. And certainly it was somewhat the same when I first had a baby, then several young children, then teenagers and babies both, then entered the world of special needs and medical fragility. I have to say I often wished there was a missal to help me learn the new routines for every new phase of life. But indeed, the main way to get used to the routine is to jump in and start following along responding to situations as they come up. That is how a small child learns language and manners, and how to participate in Christian religious life. Though there are no missals telling us how to be the keepers of our homes, there are certainly lots of books available to guide us and help us think more deeply and effectively about what we are doing.
Thanks everyone who got to the end of this study with me! I enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts and comments. If anyone stumbles across this in future and wants to comment, or if anyone is still finishing the book and wants to post or leave a link when you get to the relevant chapters, please feel free.
If you don't have your own thoughts to go into this week, I would love to hear where you are planning to go in your house-home related reading after this. I know many of you try to keep going with a house-related improvement project almost all year around.
From PaperbackSwap I got a book called The Family Manager Takes Charge which is completely different in tone and emphasis than Keeping House. It takes the idea of the homemaker as manager of a small business concern and goes from there, including many, many practical ideas on how to make house management easier, more effective and more shared with other family members. I usually don't get as much from the practical books as I do from the more musing sort, but I think it's a good time to try to upgrade my house management so I thought this one would work for a change of pace.