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10 November 2011

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Jennifer

I agree with you that the term "peace" may not be quite right in this context. I would say "balance" instead. My goal each day is to have a well run household in which the "important" tasks get done. I think there is this cult of "busyness" that tries to suck you in and you have to fight it. If you have to make a huge list in the beginning of the day about stuff that has to get done that day something is not right. Your life is out of whack.

RealMom4Life

Thanks for posting/linking. This is so timely -as in today, right now. I have no time to read it right now in any sort of recollected manner - I just printed it to take to my room at quiet time. Closing on our old house Monday morning with so much work left to do (and a mistake made by me yesterday that caused us to not only waste well over an hour but will cause much much work and sadness over the next year at our new home- not health related - just thing related). Moderately sick little ones, very pregnant momma, and one particularly "unpeaceful" child who is driving the rest of us crazy. Having a hard time keeping the peace...but I will try harder to keep peace within this afternoon. Hopefully if I can start within the peace will flow out a little easier. Thank you, seriously, thank you.

MelanieB

I'm glad you linked to the follow-up post too. Even though I did understand what she meant, the first post sort of sat wrong with me because it did sound like a sort of either-or between doing the laundry and being at peace whereas I find the tension between the two as it plays out in my house at least is a little less black and white than that. For me laundry being undone can be just as destructive to peace as being obsessive about getting it done. Whereas the true balance or peace of laundry lies in remembering the purpose of laundry, that it is merely a piece of my overall service to my family and not the most important one. I think for me true "peace" comes when I keep the relationships in the forefront. Like she says, people are more important than tasks. The tasks are there to serve the relationships and not as an end in themselves.

But what I found most interesting about your post is the linguistic question. I agree that "peace" in English is too worn and can mean too many things from "visualize world peace" to a kind of new-agey "inner peace" to "peace I leave with you my peace I give you." So I'm wondering if it wouldn't help to jump to another linguistic tradition. It seems that the meaning of "peace" that you're looking for is much closer to "pax vobiscum" than to "Pax Romanum. In other words maybe what you want is closer to "shalom" rather than "pax"?

I remember a Bible class or lecture or article that emphasized that "shalom" usually signifies relationships. I think of it first in terms of an individual relationship with God and secondarily with neighbor. Peace in this sense means primarily being in a right relationship with God and neighbor.

But looking up "shalom" in wikipedia I found that it emphasized wholeness, safety, and completion. But also a sense that something has been paid for. (Which is very interesting when you think of Christ's death as atonement as paying the full bill, the debt being forgiven because it has been paid in full.)

MelanieB

Ok, now that I've had a bit more time to ponder (hot showers are marvelous for pondering) I'm realizing that what irked me about the initial piece and even a bit in the follow-up is that it's essentially a negative definition.

So I think what I'd like to take a stab at to replace her sort of homemaker's Decalogue list of "thou shalt nots" is a homemaker's beatitudes.

Instead of "laundry is not more important than peace" perhaps you could write: "Blessed is the wife whose husband can find clean shirt and trousers, socks and underwear when he is getting dressed in the morning," and "Blessed is the mother whose children can locate clean socks and underwear and have enough clean clothes that are easily located to be able to have a satisfactory sartorial selection." (That should cover picky three year-olds who will only wear about half of the garments in their closets.)

bearing

Melanie, I like your comments! I had a similar reaction on first reading -- which is why the followup post was so important.

I think we have to know which tasks our "peace" (for want of a better word) utterly depend on. What our relationships depend on. Because believe me, relationships have to be supported! With... stuff! That we actually do!

And then we have to make some kind of decision about those tasks. Do we

- find a way to transform our selves and our relationships such that they no longer depend on the task?

- assign high priority to those tasks?

or

- find a way to transform our activities so that those tasks feel less like "tasks" and more like "living and loving in the moment?"

I mean, cooking dinner for my family is a task, and it has to be done, but it rarely feels like a task because I like to do it most days.

MelanieB

I don't know if you saw, but I expanded my comments into a full entry on my own blog. And there's some interesting discussion in the comments section.

Great observations about the nitty gritty decisions we face: transformation of self, transformation of relationships, prioritizing, and transformation of the activities-- which is actually a different sort of transformation of self, isn't it?

The last option makes me think of St Therese, doing little things with great love.

I suppose one of the biggest challenges of motherhood is that the nature and priority of the tasks is constantly shifting. I suppose one of the meta-tasks of raising children is transforming those people and those relationships... isn't that a different way of saying we are teaching them to be independent and self-sufficient? So that eventually the children are capable of managing the tasks for themselves.

I've got to think about this some more.

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