“That is impossible. You know nothing about whereness. The only way to come to know where you are is to begin to make yourself at home.”
“How am I to begin that where everything is so strange?”
“By doing something.”
“Anything; and the sooner you begin the better! for until you are at home, you will find it as difficult to get out as it is to get in.”
I am not sure why, but this little interchange in the book Lilith by George MacDonald struck me. Struck me enough I had to stop reading for a moment, setting the book down. Struck me enough to get my attention.
You know nothing about whereness.
I have mixed feelings this time of year anyway, and reading something like that hit me right in the middle of all the sentimental setting. I love the changing of the seasons; the rapidity of the change sometimes takes me aback. Just when I am beginning to truly enjoy the changing of the leaves…a storm blows through and I find more on the ground than in the trees. Actually, just after one of the last storms there were two trees on our street struck by lighting. More than just leaves were left on the street…full strong branches and half the tree was brought down.
Still…whereness. This sense of being planted and aware and knowing not only who I am but where I am.
There is something about this changing of the leaves and creation demanding our attention. Demanding we stop, or at least slow down, and pay attention.
October was, frankly, an insane month. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the laundry being out of hand, and the need to take deep breaths.The husband had a project at work that demanded attention…21+ days of work straight. Many days working fourteen or fifteen hours. Insane. Thankful for the job, thankful for the ability to work…but wow that makes the rhythm of life not conducive to paying attention.
Last week I finally found moments of stopping. I found moments of finding my footing. I found moments of not only knowing where I was…and pulling the kids in to that moment of paying attention…but feeling like I knew what home was.
We did something.
We went outside and looked around.
The very best tree in the backyard is the one Sammy and Steve planted…that sense of whereness. “Sammy’s Tree”.
Then we did something else. We created.
I mentioned the other day that one aspect of the Hutchmoot conference I attended that made it so special was the feasting. Not eating. Feasting. Food that was prepared with love and intention and presented in a way that fed the soul and helped bring us into more of a sense of the whole ‘teaching’ of the weekend.
I have found that I enjoy cooking more and more, and I enjoy it because it feeds more than just our bodies. The month was crazy, and there were nights Steve didn’t come home until 9pm. We had dinner waiting in mugs…
Some mornings I found that I needed more than just a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. I needed something that stirred memories and reminded me of my “whereness” and my “who-ness”.
Egg sandwiches. My Dad used to carry them with him to school in Indiana. I’m not sure if his had hot sauce. Or Mayo. I also found out at Hutchmoot that one of my favorite authors and singers also eats these, as a ritual. This simple sandwich now carries the weight of memories and connections…and nourishes soul and body. Reminds me of who and where I am.
Then, one night I made soup that was mentioned by Andrew Peterson, who along with his brother Pete are the founders and instigators of Hutchmoot, in his Wingfeather Saga. Totato soup. Or Stew. It made an appearance at the conference, and has made several appearances in pictures on Instagram and FaceBook as Lewis Graham, the chef, has been gracious enough to tell us his secrets. This one night, it filled our house with fragrances of whereness and our bodies with warmth. Steve ate four bowls. Then I lost count.
This week of paying attention, of slowing down and listening…it has helped. I still yelled at the kids this weekend. I still felt my footing slip. I still felt that I wasn’t completely home…but it was better. I caught myself more quickly.
I have been leading up to shutting down some of the noise. Turning off FaceBook, not worrying about sharing pictures on Instagram of all my meals. Looking instead at home, and being still. Listening and paying attention to who I am, and who I am called to be. Listening to voices from long ago, who have much to say about where and who. God inspired and preserved and poked and prodded and brought us wisdom through the years. Worth paying attention.
It’s as if the ancient bardic oracles and songs and oral histories and warrior shouts needed more than the air to carry the messages. The thoughts held enough power to need some permanence, some transmitting wire, some way of getting through to other human beings no matter how far into the future, some way of informing us, “This idea is burning in my own mind. Here, let me light a wick in you.”
-Luci Shaw. Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey
I love this time of year and the demand Creation makes upon me to pay attention. I don’t like how quickly it is over.
I am thankful for the sense of where the changing of seasons gives me. I am thankful the rhythm of the seasons reminds me of so many other years of paying attention to the leaves, of sipping hot drinks and talking about the cold weather. I am thankful for food that warms the soul and the body. I am thankful for a season to be thankful…and to be more still and quiet and calm.
The increasingly rapid heartbeat of Advent is almost here. I am eager to be ready. How about you? Turning aside from a bit of the noise for a season, listening to deeper voices. Doing something today to find home, to know my whereness and who I am. And to Whom I belong.