Today I enjoyed a rare Sunday afternoon relaxing in my sun room. I browsed through an old book, “Creating a Sense Sational Home” by Terry Willits (Atlanta area Interior Designer). I heard her speak as part of a Women of Faith conference in 1997. Her book speaks of “a woman’s touch” in the home and she says, “I am glad God made me a woman” and cites Genesis 2:18 where God says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Women and men are created to be a complement to one another. Her book then goes on to share about creating a warm and inviting home through our senses. She says,
“God has made us sensual beings. In his goodness and creativity, he has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, mouths to taste and talk, and bodies to feel. Each sense is a rich blessing that enhances our life in a unique way and can bring immense pleasure or pain. Though every sense is wonderful, we seldom encounter only one at a time. Instead, God has intricately wired them together to allow us to experience all dimensions of life as we take in the world around us.”
At the time I attended the women’s conference in 1997, my spiritual journey had asked me to look inward. For a time I put away the check list that women carry of the man they would like to marry. How often do singles ask themselves, “would I marry me?” I recall the presentation doing more to bare open my singleness in a painful way — what purpose do I have in my own home if not to nurture a family? In the years since that conference, I moved on with my life and have done big things on my own — travel, took my Christian journey into the Catholic Church — a big departure from my family origins. I even bought my own home.
When a person visits my home, I’ve always wanted them to come away knowing me better not so much by the things I say but by the things I choose to surround myself. My colors, textures, smells, religious art, nick knacks, and photos — what has prominence in my home? It is a conscious effort to find opportunities to share my home with family and friends. It is these times, when I’m not alone, that my house feels more like a home.
I look at the inscription to me that Terry made in my book, “…. may Christ’s love fill your heart and your home! Psalm 127:1”
“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build…. Psalm 127:1”
I was prepared to title a blog “Remembering Ten Years”, or something along that nature. That was before hearing a song I’ve not heard since I sang in the Baptist Church choir. The entire verses of “It Is Well” were sung as the meditation after communion at Mass this morning.
A lot has happened in the ten years since 9/11 and I do remember vividly my life at that moment. I had just returned to college the week prior to September 11, 2001. I had just completed the first of a two year catechetical program in Pastoral Ministry Formation. I was employed (and currently employed) for a major airline. I choose to hold privately in my thoughts the events I recall of that day and those subsequent trying days, weeks, and months in the airline industry.
I did a search on Horatio G. Spafford, the author of the hymn “It is Well.” The hymn was first sung in public on November 24, 1876. Horatio and his wife Anna had many tragedies in their lives. They had four daughters and one son. They lost their son to scarlet fever in 1870. Shortly thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire broke out and many, including the Spaffords, lost everything. Horatio and Anna dedicated much time to serving the poor and those in need. In 1873, they planned a trip to join with evangelical missionaries in Europe. Horatio sent his wife Anna and their four daughters ahead on the ship “Ville de Havre” with plans to join them later. The ship was impacted by another ship mid-voyage and sank. Of their family, only Anna was saved, their infant daughter pulled from her arms by the waves. Her telegraph to Horatio was “Saved alone, what shall I do?” The words to “It is Well” were penned around this tragedy. The full text of the story is here Horatio G. Spafford: The Story Behind the Hymn “It is Well with My Soul” “Saved Alone. What Shall I Do…”
My favorite verse is the last verse, “and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…”
In the Gospel of John Chapter 20, the Apostle Thomas doubts Jesus and must touch the wounds before believing in His resurrection. In verse 29, Jesus responds to them, “Have you come to believe me because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is this promise from Jesus that turns sadness and tragedy into joyful hope. Blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and I believe what He taught.