[Apologies to those of you with whom I’ve already shared part of this…]
My newest purchase is a vintage, caked-with-grime, metal 5’x5′ folk art item called a TREE OF LIFE, featuring branches for five fat candles. It is festooned with birds, and the other day, after hosing off and scrubbing, I managed to mount the thing on my bedroom wall, filling in the giant holes left by the previous tenant for THEIR art with toothpaste.
The item has six detachable arms which makes transporting easy but installation a teeny bit precarious. I’m sure the whole thing or parts of it will continually fall off, breaking an object or two below. Anyway, I love it. This way if I croak in my bed, I tell myself, I can be looking at it.
Putting my house in Tucson together, and tending to it, is part of how I order my life and day–a massive labor of love. Though I live alone and work alone, the house is not really for me, or not only for me. It’s the shelter and sanctuary from which I prepare my heart to welcome the world in–even if the world never comes!
Ora et labora, as the monks say: prayer and work. Thus, I do my own housework, happily (not that I’m great at it). I shouldn’t own more stuff or inhabit more space than I can comfortably keep clean and cared for. And for me, the filling of the birdfeeders, the replacing of the batteries in the string lights, the polishing, scrubbing, wiping down, re-arranging, neatening, are all part of some larger, beautiful purpose, of a gift that’s been given to me.
I want to put a little of my body and blood into these rooms where I live my life, where I work, eat, ponder, and pray. Consequently, all of that goes into my work, or is a preparation for my work, or more accurately, IS my work, or part of it.
I want my house to be a place of welcome–not a showpiece, but at the same time not an incidental, untidy hovel either. I want to be more or less ready so that in case someone were to drop by, I’d be able to invite them into a beautiful, cleanish space and be able to fix them a good cup of coffee and a bit of a snack.
Since I’m real friends with only two people here, and am acquainted with a couple more, this is a highly unlikely possibility. But that’s not the point.
so I think a lot about St. Therese of LIsieux’s “To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul” and of Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s“Save all of yourself for the wedding though nobody knows when or if it will ever come” and of Dorothy Day’s “We are sowing the seeds but we are not living in harvest time.”
Meanwhile, I’m going to look for some candles for the Tree of Life, the holders of course being a very irregular, inconvenient size.
Isn’t it cool, though?