Stop and Smell the Roses
Walking up or down the staircase (usually with laundry in her arms) the Lady-of-the-House momentary rests her eye on a Christening gown that hangs on a closet door. It isn’t anything her children had worn. It was a hand sewn “find” at a sprawling open-air antique market.
That was a decade ago. Now years later, she sees that the baby in the header of her blog is wearing a gown remarkably similar.
She likes the gown for its association. Once she was a mother of babies. Although, at that time the days could seem long when cries for nightly nursing awakened her, in retrospect the days were fleeting.
“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment what goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going." Tennessee Williams
The Lady-of-the-House purchased a pair of knee socks at a health food store.
She wore them with a comfortable skirt when she drove the Man-of-the-House to the hospital for surgery. All alternative treatments had only resulted in making his shoulder worse. Recently, a surgeon expertly made a number of corrections to it. But the week prior, the Lady-of-the-House had bouts of anxiety. She knows how the Man-of-the-House is allergic to strong medicines. And the pain of recovery would be forthcoming. When she awoke in the blackness of the night with foreboding, she recited Psalm 23 silently to herself with eyes closed. She fell back to sleep.
She had made ready the green sweater.
Her plan was to knit it in the waiting room. Knitting helps steady her nerves. By sewing up the side seams and picking up the stitches around the armholes, she could knit down a sleeve fuss free while the Man-of-the-House was wheeled away. Her old rectangular basket is perfect for holding distracting magazines, too.
On the day of surgery the son of the Lady and Man-of-the-House stood at the door and waved a farewell. He glanced down at his mother’s new socks. He was staring incredulously. “Mom, did you know those words were on your socks when you bought them?” The choice of garment seemed an irregular one to him. Her answer made more of a puzzling impression on him.
“Yes,” she answered, “They take the place of a tattoo and give me a good reminder.” She smiled a big smile when she saw the look on his face. Being more conscious of living in the present helps keep the Lady-of-the-House from drifting into unchecked anxiety over future events.
Leaving the driveway and turning down the road the Lady and Man-of-the-House feasted on their neighbor’s bright blooming phlox with their attraction of fluttering swallowtail butterflies.
Before they reached the highway they feasted on a wider view of the countryside – overlooking the cash crop of tobacco in the foreground. The Lady-of-the-House thought:
Mothers often look down-the-road into the future. We have to. There is always the next meal to prepare. Another batch of clothes awaits washing. And children inevitably grow out of their clothes. They grow intellectually, too, and a new semester of books is sought and lined up. Looking after and looking ahead are very much part of her life. Birthdays and holidays are forthcoming. Recitals loom on the horizon. Wise economy is essential and money is squirreled away for future expenses. Homemakers can easily become overwhelmed with gazing too long and too often at what’s ahead.
Present With God
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,” says our Lord Jesus. He then points out that Mary has chosen the good part. *1
Do we pause and listen at the feet of Jesus like Mary in the calm of a present moment? Do we also, as St. Paul tells us, “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving” pour out our hearts to the God who loves us?* 2
“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for the future.” Arnold H. Glasgow
Present With Her Husband
In a good marriage a wife lives in the present with her husband. Anne Morrow Lindbergh is insightful on this. She says. “Security in a relationship lies neither in [looking] back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.” Unless we find contentment in the present we will never find it.
Forgive and forget. If we haven’t forgotten perhaps we haven’t really forgiven.
Love loves in the present.
Present With Her Children
A mother who lives plentifully in the present with her children worries less. She has learned to be mindful of the words of Christ Jesus, “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” *3
The best preparation for the future, says George McDonald, “is the present well seen to, and the last duty done.”
Our todays make our tomorrows.
Present in the Home
For my young lady readers, as much as youth is filled with anticipation and aspirations, enjoy the present with your mother, father, brother, sister. Someday you may live miles apart as professions in America so often necessitate. Families become geographically separated. This is what the Amish strive to avoid by confining themselves to the horse and buggy.
Someday you may be leaving and cleaving. A new home will be established. Then, you may be arranging for extended family gatherings for a renewed time of togetherness.
An Example From Fiction
Speaking of young ladies, the Lady-of-the-House has before her a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. Have you seen the BBC film? In this beautifully done period piece, nineteen-year-old Margaret Hale is the main character. The first dozen chapters of the book are tightly fitted into the film’s first installment. Between leaving the parsonage, a country home in the south of England, and reaching their destination north to the smoky, crowded, manufacturing town of Milton, the Hales take a holiday at the seashore. This holiday is described in the book but omitted from the film. The Lady-of-the-House soaked in some lines that especially spoke to her. They reflect Margaret’s thoughts during her stay at the seashore. (She came upon them not long after the purchase of her new socks.)
After the emotional upheaval of father Hale’s shocking news combined with the physical packing of boxes for the family’s “removal”, for the first time in many days Margaret felt at rest. The sights, sounds, and scents of the seashore were wonderfully new and refreshing to her. Mrs. Gaskell writes:
|Camden, Maine, U.S.A.|
“There was a dreaminess in the rest, too, which made it still more perfect and luxurious to repose in. . . the stroll down the beach, the sea air . . . the great long misty sea-line touching the tender-coloured sky; the white sail of a distant boat turning silver in some pail sunbeam: - it seemed as if she could dream her life away in such loveliness of pensiveness, in which she made her present all in all, from not daring to think of the past or wishing to contemplate the future.
But the future must be met, however stern and iron it be.”
Our Heavenly Father is omnipresent. He is not bound by time. But for his children He is a very present help in trouble.”*4
This little poem by Mary Frances Butts sums up this post’s message sweetly.
Build a little fence of trust
Fill the space with loving work,
And therein stay;
Look not through the sheltering bars
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
Dean is recovering slowly and surely. He photographed the flowers and countryside in previous weeks. Someday I may learn photo-shop but for now Dean always crops and balances the colors of each post’s pictures for me.
The grasshopper-green sweater with rolled edges was completed this week in size 2 for a grandson.
My cross-stitch sampler (more strawberries) is hung on a bedroom wall. I positioned it in a parlor window (above) to photograph it (along with a few close-ups of its parts) in greater sunlight. The design is by Words of Praise.
Your thoughts are welcome,
1. Complete story: Luke 10:38-42
2. Fuller passage: Philippians 4
3. Fuller passage: Matthew 6:34
4. Complete passage: Psalms 46:1