A study of Chapter 8, linked with the Common Room's ongoing study of this book.
It seems like this chapter and the previous chapter overlap somewhat in their thoughts, but Mrs. Mains introduces a new concept of being welcoming to the people who live with us who are not a part of our nuclear family. I seriously considered keeping my post on this chapter to this:
I wish I had read this a year ago.
But the material here is rich and I think it would benefit myself and others if I flesh things out a little bit more, so I will say,
I wish I had read this a year ago.
But I do not think I was ready to read it a year ago.
And I don't know if I am really ready to read it now. All I can do is to try to learn from grievous mistakes of the past.
Perhaps more difficult than developing attitudes of welcome toward our children is keeping a spirit of invitation open towards those adults with whom we live - husbands, roommates, or parents.
Yes, this is very difficult. Living with people who are not in our nuclear family is very, very, very, very difficult. We have had extra people living with us for roughly 1/3 of our marriage. It is difficult because the persons who have lived with us have not been our children where we could tell them what to do. They have not been our parents. (Though I know some people who are dealing with this challenge, and one day is may be our own.) They have not been employees or renters. They are guests, but very complicated guests, who must bear more responsibility to the functioning of the household with their lengthy stay. There is no pre-existing pattern to use and no real natural order or hierarchy to rely upon. The difficulty cannot be overstated.
I have little wisdom to share on the subject because I feel like a student myself. So I will share a bit of what Mrs. Mains has to say:
We must learn to share our lives, to intermingle thoughts and emotions, and to thereby consecrate our tiny dwellings in this large world as a place in which His Presence is pleased to abide. Disunity is a sure sign that He has not been allowed to become a guest within our inner beings, and therefore has no place in our material abodes either.
I truly believe that whenever we gather together under one roof, be it in a dormitory, a community, or a singular dwelling, we have the opportunity of creating family.
Why is there no welcome in my heart? Is it because of self-centeredness? or resentment? because I have been betrayed? Deep work of the Spirit then has to be done. For most of us, however, it is a matter of simply developing new attitudes.
Simply a matter? Oh if only the matter WERE simple!
Let us work, then, on the welcome we extend to those with whom we live - not just the greeting given at the end of a long day, but the hospitality shared in the moment-to moment meshing of lives. Let us demonstrate to one another, "Your ideas are welcome. Your interests are welcome. Your presence is welcome."
I do not know whether or not we will have the opportunity to have another person join our family for a time. I hope and pray that if there is a next time, I will be able to welcome them moment to moment. As the hostess, it is up to me to set the tone of the home and maintain a positive attitude, no matter how it is reciprocated. This may be the most difficult thing of all and it can only happen with God's help.
Our attitude is what determines if that rare miracle of closeness will occur.
Kind readers, if you have any wisdom to share on the subject, I would dearly love to hear it.