So how do we gain a concept or vision for our mundane, quotidian homemaking & housekeeping work that will lift us from the oppressive modern conception of work as a necessary evil we do so that we can afford a consumer lifestyle?
all work is a bringing of the ideal from potentiality to actuality.
The days of a busy mother are made up of millions of transformations. Dirty children become clean, the hungry child fed, the tired child sleeping. Almost every task a mother performs in the course of a normal day could be considered a transformation. Disorder to order, dirty clothes to clean, unhappy children to peaceful, empty fridge to full. Every day we fight against disorder, filth, starvation, and lawlessness, and some days we might almost succeed. And then, while we sleep, everything unravels and we start again in the morning — transforming.
The mother’s work is work infused with symbolism, so when modernity denies the existence of symbolism, it denies the potency and importance of homemaking by necessity. We make homes, and homes are a place of deep meaning and deep influence that cannot be assessed or measured. If we treat it as strictly necessary, utilitarian tasks we do because we must, we are missing an essential key to being contended and happy at home.
Let us not give in to a truncated, materialistic view of the world that says what we see in front of us is all that is real. The eyes of faith look at it and see opportunities for faithfulness or unfaithfulness; they see that God has created home and family and mother to teach us and our children about the world he made, to preach the gospel in how we live, including in the way we keep house. And, lest you think I mean we must have a clean house for it to preach the gospel, I will reiterate: it is the way we keep house that preaches. Ignoring the home and children preaches a lie. Scrubbing the house and children in a disinfectant way that kills its life preaches a lie. Loving, sacrificial giving, willingness to die to our own selfish ideals for the sake of others (at times that will mean cleaning and at times that will mean not cleaning), is preaching the truth.
Instead of viewing the home as a place of realizing potential ideals, of transforming chaos into order, of sacrificial giving, we easily get trapped in the world’s metaphysic:
Somewhere, moreover, the metaphysicians of publicity have absorbed the idea that the goal of life is happiness through comfort. It is a state of complacency supposed to ensue when the physical appetites have been well satisfied. Advertising fosters the concept, social democracy approves it, and the acceptance is so wide that it is virtually impossible today, except from the religious rostrum, to teach that life means discipline and sacrifice.
How much of our practical organization and cleaning efforts fall in line with this mentality:
He conceives the world the be a fairly simple machine, which, with a bit of intelligent tinkering, can be made to go. And going, it turns out comforts and whatever other satisfactions his demagogic leaders have told him he is entitled to.
If our organizing and cleaning is an attempt at “intelligent tinkering” that, if finally figured out, will churn out comfort and happiness without discipline and sacrifice on our part, we will continue to seek in vain and be dissatisfied and disappointed.
Instead, the point is growing in discipline and sacrifice, which means we will continually be up against struggle. We do not grow without struggle. Our goal isn’t to finally achieve the easy life, but to live out daily a faithful life, regardless of cost or trouble.