It is common things that quench thirst, not rare things; ordinaries, not luxuries; not palatial houses, but a home; not royal wine, but cold water; good health, kind friends, encouraging words, loving deeds, duty done, heartaches healed, a grasp, a clasp, a kiss, a smile, a song, a welcome–these are the beams that bring summer into the soul, and make us light-hearted, free and glad. –1933
So there you have it, ladies. This is our grand opportunity to be secret agents. By all appearances, we’re mild-mannered housewives working in ordinary middle class homes, fighting a never-ending battle for clean dishes, laundry, and the Organized Way. But underneath our aprons, we hide nearly magical powers to bring a bit of summer to a dreary March day.
We have the opportunity to set the tone in the household and give our families the kindness and encouragement that makes them feel “light-hearted, free, and glad.” Your family and friends may not even be aware of the summery little beams you scatter all over your haven like a little fairy, but they’ll appreciate the atmosphere those beams create.
What’s a common denominator necessary in all these beams the writer talks about? Time. In spite of our efforts to be productive and make every minute count, we can’t maintain an awareness when we’re moving at a frantic pace. A slower pace of life gives us time to notice the needs around us. These beams are not things we can hire someone else to do but at the same time, they don’t cost us anything, either. Someone has to be present to notice and provide the encouraging words, healed heartaches, smiles, and songs whenever the opportunity arises.
Our subtle ability to create an atmosphere will leave a longer lasting memory than a dusted bookshelf or clean bathroom towels. Of course, household chores are important to making the home a peaceful, orderly haven, but there has to be a balance. You don’t want to be like a lady I knew from church. She was the picture of hospitality and graciousness, but you had to clear the clutter off the couch if you should happen to want to sit down during your visit. You also don’t want to be the woman who is so organized and scheduled that all the bins and baskets in her home have cute little chalkboard labels and a detailed planner marking every hour of the day but she’s too productive for just “livin’ life.”
It’s an inspiring realization, isn’t it? The quiet impact we can have when we deliberately schedule our days loosely enough to fit in the unexpected–a spontaneous coffee date with a friend or an afternoon in a makeshift living room tent with your children. Maybe it will mean that you can send extra cookies to an elderly neighbor or welcome unexpected company instead of hiding in the closet hoping they don’t notice your car in the driveway.
It’s the intangibles that make our profession such an irreplaceable one.