Thursday, July 18, 2013

A New Bedspread

There's an old Spanish proverb I posted in my classroom once.

"First we shape our houses. Then they shape us."

And because I remembered that saying I’ve been shopping for a new bedspread. 
And that reminded me of how troublesome men can be. 
And that got me to thinking of how troublesome it is to do the right thing in general. 
So now I need to vent.

I was shopping because our bedspread has issues. It's years old and looking dated to say the least. Even, I hate to admit, a little shabby. 
Because it came in a set and I used one of the smaller pieces to cover a window valance, replacing it means replacing the valance. It's going to be a lot of trouble and work. 
Well, the price of beauty is labor, as they say, and we've been counseled that our homes should be places of beauty, haven't we? 

That inspired counsel given about our homes was certainly not that they be costly, or large, or of any particular style. But that they shouldn't be neglected. No matter where or what, they should be places that reflect intelligence and beauty. In fact, we’re supposed to create homes of such charm and grace that “angels will want to visit and rest there.” I read that somewhere important.

I know that several early Prophets have talked about the subject of our homes and surroundings. I think it was Brigham Young that said when people look at the home of a Saint they should say to themselves, “What a lovely little cottage.” 
So, this must matter to Father.

And if it matters to Father then it should matter to me.

I’d like to do the right thing here but it would be a lot easier for me to accomplish this if my circumstances were different.
There are obstacles, I can tell you. 
Sometimes money for one.
The man I live with definitely for two.

So, here I am. In the middle of the blazing Sonoran desert, in a tiny little house, (tiny by choice but nevertheless) with a shabby bedspread and a troublesome man. 
I’ve been told to create beauty. 
I’m thinking.

While thinking my mind wanders back to a fall day in the center of a Glendale, Arizona barrio. 
I was teaching at the oldest school in the city, one that, sixty or so years ago, I was shocked and dismayed to learn, had been reserved solely for kids who did not qualify as “White Only”. I hadn’t realized there’d been segregated schools in this state. Sadly, I found out, there were.

I was going out to visit the mother of one of my students. I needed her to sign some papers. She had several little ones and couldn’t come in to school herself. This happened a lot. So I drove along the street, passing small houses that were surely built at the same time as the school, looking for the address. I stopped at a house that couldn’t have been more than one room wide.

There was a short chain link fence with a gate in front. It enclosed a tiny yard with a patch of grass that was green and neatly trimmed. All along the fence, vines and flowers were growing in a narrow bed. As I came to the door I saw cleverly disguised tin cans and food containers also filled with growing flowers.You had to look closely to see what the containers were. A large and lovely vine which I recognized as a sweet potato plant, hung from a twine carrier and spilled down gracefully next to the front window. 
I knocked. 
The woman who answered was dressed in a colorful skirt and a clean white blouse. She was carrying a baby on one hip and had a little one grasping her skirts from behind.The small girl clinging to her knees had big dark eyes and pink bows in her braided hair. The woman asked me in.
It was the smallest living room I’d ever seen. It couldn’t have been more than 6 feet wide. 
The room was spotless and filled with light spilling in from the window. The floor was shining cement, the walls were adorned with lovely pictures, landscapes and religious subjects as far as I could tell. Some were in frames, some appeared to be cut from magazines and placed on colorful, lacy paper mats. All were carefully hung in groups to the glowing white walls. The only window sparkled in the sun and that lovely vine could be seen gently moving in the breeze outside. There was a little shelf holding a colorful scarf and a porceline figure on the wall. 
The only furniture was a small loveseat and chair covered with matching throws. A little painted chest stood against the opposite wall. On top of the chest was a television and a vase of the flowers I’d seen outside. Delicious smells came wafting out of the next room which reminded me that it was getting on toward suppertime. 
Without asking she immediately brought me a cold drink. We talked pleasantly, she signed the papers and I left to head back to school.

Well, it’s been many years since I sat in that little home but I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I was there. You could almost touch the peace, the beauty, the creativity and intelligence that dwelt there. The woman who created that home was magnifying her sacred calling. If I were an angel I would love to stop by to visit and rest awhile.

This got me to thinking about another one of my student’s homes.

It was during our mountain years. I was teaching in a wonderful little school in a tiny town with marvelous, down to earth people. It was lunch time. My kids were out in the hall getting ready to go to the cafeteria. A new student had joined our class that morning, a boy from a family just moving from the city. We were all standing in line talking together, waiting for the 4th graders ahead of us to get going. 
My kids, who were always friendly, were talking to the new boy, trying to make him feel at home. I was chatting with some of the girls with half an eye on keeping the line in order. I heard one of my guys ask the new boy where he lived. He told them. 
Someone else said, “Oh, I know where that is. Down at the other end of the street from the “junk house,” right? “Yeah,” some of the other kids chimed in, “That’s where it is. At the other end of the street from the junk house.”

The line started to move. The kids stopped their conversations
My boys didn’t even know that their classmate who lived in the “junkhouse” had heard them. They didn't mean to be cruel.
But I saw the boy's face. What I saw there broke my heart. 
There was shame and embarrassment. Feelings hard for a child to bear. 
But, I prayed silently, not, "I come from the junkhouse so I must be junk." 
Please Father, don't let him think that.

So, creating homes of grace despite our circumstances is important to Father. Order, cleanliness, and beauty might really be next to godliness. Maybe there's something to that old saying, "First we shape our houses, then they shape us

Back to the bedspread.

Gratefully, I have the means to buy a new bedspread. And I even have the grandkids who can climb a ladder and get the old valance down. 
What I don’t have is a husband whose grizzled gray and bearded face looks good under any sort of elegant covering. Every time I think I’ve found a new one (bedspread that is), I imagine his sleeping, snoring face peeking out from under the covers. 
I’ve tried, really tried people, but he just doesn’t match with any type of charming decor!
Some of you may be married to elegant or adorably cute men but mine is the rugged type. He now looks like a mountain man fresh from the hunt. An old one to boot. Burlap or buffalo hides are the only fabrics that come to mind when you gaze at his sleeping face. 
Back when he was younger he used to look like Sean Connery. Then a cross between Sean and Santa Claus. Then just Santa Claus. Now, it’s the mountain man phase. 
I’m not the only one who sees these evolving resemblances either. Once a few years back, in an emergency, I called Sears where he’d gone to buy some shoes. 
I asked for the tool department. I told the girl who answered that I needed to find my husband quick because our son had just called with last minute tickets to the ASU / UofA football game, and they needed to leave in 20 minutes. 
She asked what he looked like. I told her a cross between Sean Connery, Santa Claus and a buffalo. She said she didn’t see him. 
I said “He’s a good kisser.” She replied brightly, “Oh sure, there he is now!”

Yes, men can be troublesome indeed.

Even so, you’ll be happy to know, I am not deterred. 
Thinking about all this has strengthened me. 
I’m off on my quest for a new bedspread. 
And I’m going to try to create beauty by replanting my patio pots with hardy perenials that can perhaps survive in this blast furnace portion of the Lord’s vineyard. 
And I even won’t murmur against those people in San Diego or Flagstaff who have such an easy time creating beauty all around, and don’t appreciate it. 
On the coast I once saw tomato plants and flowers growing wild and tall as your head around the dumpsters behind a McDonalds! Tomatoes were everywhere and desperately needed to be picked. 
I almost had to cuss but “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s tomato plants” is a rule, I think.

Anyway life is full of obstacles meant to be overcome. I’ll let you know how this one turns out for me.