A combination

Members of Jeff's family joined mine in Atlanta to encourage us on the night before Matt's second open heart surgery in July 1994.

Four members of Jeff’s family joined mine in Atlanta to encourage us
on the night before Matt’s second open heart surgery at Emory, July 1994.

“Home is a combination of human will and divine grace.”Alexandra Stoddard

Whether we live alone or with family, whether we open our doors to traveling friends and adopted animals, or prefer a more solitary life, it takes substantial effort to create and maintain a home.  Despite what we sometimes refer to as modern conveniences, the challenge has never been greater than it is in today’s world.

Because so many aspects of life converge there, a residence serves as the hub for diverse and often conflicting demands.  It is roughly equal parts functional work station, entertainment center and quiet retreat.  Cell phones and computers have only increased the demands on the home in all three roles, and often the lines blur confusingly.  It takes planning, organization and vigilant management to keep a balance that will enhance rather than burden our lives.

But our best efforts often fall short of perfection — and thank goodness it is not needed.  Because homes also are places of divine grace, where our busy, sometimes frantic activities are augmented by something intangible that pulls everything together into harmony surprisingly often.  Not always, but more often than our harried hurry might suggest.

The beauty of freshly cut flowers in a simple glass vase; the unique ambience of soothing music or lively conversation; the cozy hour spent with a cup of tea and a good book, or a quiet period of shared reflection with someone we love — all these things and countless others adorn our living spaces with a grace that does not come from human hands or laborious endeavors.

Perhaps we would do well to recognize and amplify these unexpected gifts — what one reader recently described as “pockets of joy” — and focus our efforts on those activities which seem most likely to create time and space for them.  Today, I hope you will find a renewed awareness of all the many ways you are happy and blessed in your home.  What actions seem to create synergy between our achievements and our blessings?  How can we provide an environment where we are tuned in and ready to welcome these gifts of grace whenever they come?

Happy Birthday today to my mother, Sybil,
who created a home for us filled with human will and divine grace!

This post was first published seven years ago today. Mama, the blonde seated directly in front of Jeff, was (almost to the day) exactly the same age in this1994 photo as I am today, on the day this post appears again. It’s a tribute to her that she continued to play such an important role in the lives of all four of her children, who had come from four different states to be together that night. When I snapped this picture, she and Daddy had just cooked a hearty meal for everyone pictured, and it was somehow a festive evening despite the grim and frightening days that lay ahead of us.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

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