Saturday, January 07, 2006

On Balance (from The Pace of a Hen)

I've been putting off posting this quote till I figured out how to do this...but you're going to have to imagine labels on the four poles of the cross image: Prayer at the top and Recreation at the bottom, and Work and Family on the sides. It would also be nice if you could imagine it appearing down towards the bottom of this quote from The Pace of a Hen where the cross is mentioned....
If the purpose of existence is to be useful, to exercise one’s particular gift, to grow more loving, to increase in awareness of beauty and goodness, to be ever more thankful for the miracle of life, many selves seem to be required for such fulfillment. There may be one self who wants to bake golden loaves of bread, wash the kitchen shelves, weed the garden, use all the tangible domestic arts to create an orderly, well-provisioned home. A second self desires to lie abed in the morning, curl up all afternoon with a good novel, listen to good music, write stories, drink coffee, and laugh over the New Yorker. The third self is quite unhappy without the companionship of family and friends, without an outreach to those in trouble, or even a prominent part in the world of affairs. A fourth longs for solitude and an early rising that gives space in the day for prayer.

How can we pull together this divided creature? The bustling housewife! … Instead of worrying about her diverse interests, she can learn to give thanks for the richness of her existence, for the wholeness she may attain as she weaves together the varying selves of her feminine nature.

Out of the welter of pace and pattern the design that emerges is the old, old symbol, a cross. …The level of life on which women spend most of their time serving their families, friends, and community—that is the horizontal bar of the cross which seems to point in opposite directions but turns out to be all of a piece, with no separation between family and work. …Likewise the upright bar is unbroken. It can scarcely be determined where recreation which keeps life sane and joyful ceases, and spiritual renewal begins.

(The book was written in 1961--I guess "housewife" wasn't un-PC yet, and don't you love the New Yorker reference? I think a modern-day equivalent might be sitting at the computer in your pajamas reading blogs.)

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