April 8, 2018
I’m writing this post from my sunroom, looking out over the last golden remnants of a brisk-but-beautiful spring day. Behind me, the dogs are snoozing on the kitchen floor, and I know that my husband is sitting at his desk in the den beyond.
Yes, my friends, we are HOME. Last Wednesday a cavalcade of moving trucks came rumbling down the driveway and a small army of men and women started carrying in our things. There was something almost fairytale-ish about seeing all these long-empty rooms waking to warmth and familiarity. I nearly wept at the sight of my great-grandmother’s petticoat table, our faithful kitchen chairs, the little Empire sofa from the parlor, and my own desk, endearingly battered and scarred from years of hard service.
Never mind the fact that our new mattress is too big for our antique bed. That night, after all these long, weary months, we slept under our own roof. And for the first time in nearly a year, I woke up in my own room.
Happiness doesn’t even come close to the way we’re feeling–it’s not nearly nuanced enough. Only joy can accommodate the complexity of it all; only joy can let the grief of loss mingle with the wonder of restoration. We are walking in joy these days, dazed by it, sometimes tear-blinded by it. And the significance of the timing of it all is not lost on us: how fitting of the Lord to bring us to our ‘desired haven’ in the resurrected world of Eastertide.
Throughout this ordeal, the concept of feasting has been a recurring hope–the fact that our home would one day ring with the laughter of loved ones once more, and that our mirth and our solemnity alike would image a Feast all creation is longing for, has been a glimmer of radiance on the rim of even the darkest of days. So many things have pointed to that in this story, things I look forward to sharing with you in more detail. But suffice it to say, for now, that faith has taken the shape of a feast in my heart and mind over the past year.
“Easter is a 50-day feast,” a friend reminded me the week before we moved in. “You have plenty of time to savor the meaning in all this.”
And time is just exactly what I need, both for savoring and settling. We’ve a long ways to go yet before repairs are fully completed and the last moving box is emptied. I’m wandering from room to room, unpacking one box at a time, trying not to lose heart at the mountain before me. In a way, it’s like one big, long, super-emotional Christmas, with package after package crammed with carefully wrapped mystery bundles.
(True to their word, the contents company handled my Georgian tea set with exquisite care. And Gog and Magog are happy to be reinstated on the bedroom mantel.)
On Easter Sunday (a splendor of sunlight and birdsong here in Georgia), the pastor reminded us that the act of feasting is both a celebration and a discipline.
“Life wins,” he said. “Will we live as if life ultimately wins when we see death all around?”
That paradox resonated with me, and continues to, as I feather my nest with loved and familiar things–and as I open a box suddenly reeking with the horror and surprise of an all-too-familiar aroma of smoke.
The night we moved in, I asked Philip to read Psalm 126–the very Psalm the Lord used 19 years ago to articulate the hope of our coming marriage. As he read, I wept with wonder–and, yes–Joy:
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Last Wednesday, after the movers had gone for the day and the rooms fell silent with a hush of expectation, I looked around at the million-and-one things that all needed doing at the same moment. And then, remembering Elisabeth Eliot’s famous injunction to “do the next thing,” I did the most important thing I could think of. Summoning my puppy, Luna, and grabbing a pair of scissors, I wandered out into the yard and gathered a bouquet of apple blossoms, old-fashioned shirt buttons and still-green snowball flowers. Then I came back into the house, dumped them in my new/old sink, and proceeded make an arrangement for the kitchen windowsill.
To think that God would time our re-homing with the appearance of dogwoods and azaleas is breathtaking to me.
And for the rest of my life, the scent of apple blossoms will make me think of that day.
Life wins, my friends. Take heart.
Under the Mercy,
p.s. In keeping with a season of renewal, I’m stepping back from the internet for the duration of Eastertide–not going ‘dark,’ necessarily, but definitely dim. I need to find my rhythms and remember what rest looks like. And unpack all those boxes! 😉 I’ll probably pop in on Instagram once in a while, but otherwise I think I’ll just give myself permission to order my little world and ‘study to be quiet,’ as the good old King James would say.
To my newsletter subscribers, you can look for a final installment in our restoration story around the middle of May. 🙂
A blessed Eastertide to you all. He is risen, and that changed everything.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
So happy for you!
Welcome home!!! I pray God’s blessings over your “new” dwelling spaces. May you time of dimness be a time of replenishing and renewal and a deep knowing of His relentless love for you. ??
We are so happy that you are back in your beautiful home.
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Frederich Buechner
Lanier: Rejoicing with you that God has brought you both back HOME! Relish every moment of the wonder that you feel.
On my kitchen counter sits a framed picture which I gazed at often after our recent move. It says…..”be thankful when you’re tired and weary because it means you’ve made a difference.” In these times when you are emptying all those boxes, and feeling that you might never see order again, remember that each day, with the Lord’s help, you are restoring beauty and peace to your home. Rejoice….He is risen!
Homecoming Bliss. Enjoy your time of sweet celebration.
How exciting and welcome home! Love this post. Enjoy the unpacking . . . a little at a time! Blessings.
I am so happy for you even if we received 6″ of snow on Easter night. It snowed this morning. Spring will arrive someday.
These words reminded me of the lovely song by Sandra McCracken from her Psalms CD called We Will Feast in the House of Zion.
Joy indeed comes in the morning.
Oh hooray! And I love the timing, too. You are so right. We’ve been glorying in the azaleas and dogwoods here in East Texas, so I have an inkling of your joy.
Oh, what happy news, Lanier! Many blessings to you and Okd Ruff Farmhouse! ❤️?
Bliss and Blessings I wish for you two in your new/old Home! Xo
“So, in those winters of the soul,
By bitter blasts and drear
O’erswept from Memory’s frozen pole,
Will sunny days appear.
Reviving Hope and Faith, they show
The soul its living powers,
And how beneath the winter’s snow
Lie germs of summer flowers!
The Night is mother of the Day,
The Winter of the Spring,
And ever upon old Decay
The greenest mosses cling.
Behind the cloud the starlight lurks,
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
For God, who loveth all His works,
Has left His hope with all!”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Praising God that Spring – both literal and figurative – have arrived for you, Lanier! I’m sharing your joy in welcoming all that loveliness and lovely news… from afar.
Praying for deep and restorative sleep by night and ongoing joy by day.
Happiest of news, sweet friend. <3
Learning from you how to take joy.
Blessings on your new/old home. How kind of the Lord to restore your home in the newness of spring.
I am so happy for you and Phillip! Enjoy your beautiful new old home! I have really enjoyed the newsletters and look forward to the next one in May.
What a wonderful timimg. From now on, Easter will be even more special to you.
I’m so glad for you all!
And thank you for sharing the process in your wonderful newsletters!
Lanier, I’m reminding myself via your newsletter words to “practice resurrection” a la Wendell Berry. Thank God Eastertide is 50 days, indeed… May your heart and soul be continually made new in the days ahead.
I listened to your ‘Rivendell’ talk through the Anselm Society podcast channel today, then looked up your essays and blog posts and read several of those, and now I would love to be on your e-newsletter list (I think you mentioned in a recent blog entry that this was the proper channel for that). Also, I just wanted to throw out there that 1) L. M. Montgomery is my favorite non-Inklings author and I have regularly reread her books since I was eleven and 2) ‘A Severe Mercy’ has been one of my favorite books since high school, and I can’t help but draw parallels between you and Mr. Vanauken. 🙂 Thank you again for the beauty of the work that you do!
Hello, Sara, and thanks for your friendly words! 🙂 I’d be happy to add you to the mailing list. I’m *quite* behind my original schedule in sending the next installment, but I’m hoping to get it out soon. 😉
Is it toolate to read, get in on, savor the newsletter? Drinking in your words that point to hope.
No, it’s not too late at all. 🙂 Thanks so much for asking to be added, Kathy–I’m happy to know that my words have blessed you.
I’m behind on my original posting/newsletter schedule, seeing as the moving in/resettling process has been a lot busier than I anticipated. However, I do hope to have an update out very soon. And I will send you the ‘back issues’ of the newsletter, as well. 🙂
Hello Lanier, I have read you blog and ordered books from you in the past, but I guess I am way behind on your news, I would also like to be added to your newsletter list and hear your latest. I just read an essay from you over at The Rabbit Room and realized I had not checked in to see what you were up to lately. I will have to read a few of your older blogs to see. So glad you are back in your beautiful home and hope by now you have put the way you like it!
A blessed birthday to you, Lanier. And Lammas is almost upon us! Have you read the Lammas post at A Clerk of Oxford? Wonderful. Btw, your new blog format is beautiful…stunning, really. Kind regards, Josie Ray https://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-little-history-of-lammas.html
Congratulations on being back in your beloved home. Also, thank you *very* much for calling out the phrase “study to be quiet.” It expressed what I have been intuitively seeking to do this week and, putting it into words, gave it greater strength. We suddenly have found ourselves in a place where people seem all “bustle and blabber” and several days curled up alone with the good old books was direly needed. (The doorbell broke several months ago. We never had it fixed and that, too, has helped considerably…all these things that contribute to peace…)
Oh, pooh. I meant to say, too, that I love your wallpaper choices. The Morris and the Victorian rose frames/ovals being my favorite. Lovely.
Good morning, Lanier. Listening to some of your fine music while baking maple leaf cookies for an 11:00 tea. Laudate Nomen Domini came and and gave me unexpected waves of goosebumps through the entire song. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely art. Autumn blessings of joy…
While listening to your music (thank you, btw, for the introduction to Lord Jesus, Think on Me. I have found it now in one of my old hymnals and since it when the right mood is with me…a beautiful gift), it suddenly came into my mind how you are iconic. And how much strength is required for that, to mix in the world and hold off the world at the same time. To have vision to know what you are and to stay that in face of opposing forces and altering influences. And then I suddenly saw my own Type…and timidly set Iconic in my Type as a goal. It re-strengthened me for my work on earth, in which I was faltering: to love and to cheer and to encourage, to testify to Light, in the ways that He has given me to do that.
He who well endureth,
Bright reward secureth;
Come then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us;
Let us here confess Thee,
Till in heaven we bless Thee.
(Once He Came in Blessing)
A blessed Third Day of Autumn.
What beautiful thoughts, Josie. It’s really challenging and exciting (and daunting!) to think about how we are “in the world, but not of it.” Such a charge towards presence and vision.
And I’m so glad you like the song. It’s one of those pieces which has a quality of “ever-newness” to me.