Feeling discouraged about my house’s current messiness, I sighed this afternoon and looked outside the window to the woods nearby.
But instead of a relaxing and orderly view, I thought, “Well, it’s a mess, too!”
I mean, there are all sorts of different types of plants there in the woods, with no rhyme or matching to them, except for their common green color. The plants grow every which way, tangling themselves together with the help of fast-growing vines. Some plants’ green leaves have turned brown; some are now yellow. There is pine straw dangling from most leaves. Even the birds can’t fly through these woods. Rather, they tend to dive to their nests.
I often think that in homemaking we should follow God’s example of creation. Just as nature has seasons: rainy, dry, winter, and summer; our home can have seasons: canning season, candle-making season, attic-cleaning season, and outside-all-day season. Just as nature makes use of everything, without waste, so also can we learn to be frugal and careful by making the most of our income, learning natural health care, and mulching and composting our gardens.
Could we then follow nature’s example of my messy forest? Well, we can at least learn from it.
Some of us keep a messy house with little decoration. We are like my forest in Alabama and Florida, where there is plenty of scrub brush, and you cannot walk a straight line without becoming tangled by the vines. Maybe once in a while, but you really have to look, you might find a bit of decoration in a blooming plant. If we are like the Deep South forests, we need to work on cleaning our homes more efficiently, so our family will feel relaxed and guests will feel welcome. We also need to work on adding a little decoration and scent to our homes.
Some of us, on the other hand, keep a house so clean that nobody feels welcome in it, not even our own family. We are like the desert, sparse and neat. There is beauty in the desert, in occasional flowers, or in painted rocks. We will not get sick here, and we will enjoy the beauty of the house, but we will not feel like we can relax here. If we are like the desert, we need to work on being more welcoming, by allowing a little more of the forest into our homes. We’re doing a great job with decorating and cleaning, but we need to remind ourselves not to be obsessed about it.
The forests of British Columbia and the forests of North Carolina offer excellent examples of good housekeeping to us. One forest is more majestic, with huge trees and tall mountains, while the other is simpler, with bushes and small trees and large hills, yet each gives us a good idea of what would make a cozy home. In these forests, you will find neatly kept forest floors, strewn with occasional flowers and scented leaves. The forest is clean enough to walk through, yet decorated enough to be two of the most beautiful of nature’s Cathedrals. We feel welcome here.
I first started writing this article to say, “Choose what type you are, then be happy with that.” But now that I’ve thought more about it, I think we should not be content to say, “Oh, that’s the way I am.” What’s the point of a home? A home is to shelter, nurture and serve your family, and to welcome guests. If our home is not performing that way, we need to think about what we can do to change that.
Look outside your window. What example is God teaching you through nature?
While you’re looking out the window, I’ve got some cleaning to do!