Bethany Weekend Now Open!

“These coppers, big and little, these brooms and clouts and brushes, were tools; and with them one made, not shoes or cabinet-work, but life itself. One made a climate within a climate; one made the days,–the complexion, the special flavor, the special happiness of each day as it passed; one made life.”
Willa Cather, Shadows on the Rock

Each craft has its tools. And those tools show themselves for what they are in the hands of the craftsman—in this case a woman. She knows how to use these tools because she knows what they are really for. She feels intuitively that her craft in the home stands out from all others. She is intent on forming something much greater than cabinets, or any such things.

The real fruit of her art is not tangible—or rather not only tangible—even if some immediate products are. The cabinetmaker sees his hands give shape to something concrete and beautiful right before his very eyes. He quickly perceives how well he is doing, and if something has gone amiss. The woman of the household struggles to see the fruit of her work. Sometimes the concrete things she sees are not very beautiful. Or maybe she succeeds in making them aesthetically pleasing, but the deeper purpose remains elusive.

In no other human art is there such a fine interplay, such a meaningful interweaving, of the intangible and the tangible. Such it is in the home, because such is human life. And woman is at the heart of it.

Yet today it can be so difficult for a woman to discover and to practice this art—one that is so her, and so hers. Commonly ridiculed and undermined, caricatured or simply ignored, it is seldom seen for what it is, let alone reverenced, and cultivated. When still practiced, emphasis can tend toward achieving a certain look in the home, or a certain performance of the children, missing the deeper reality. And often today this work in the home remains secondary to achieving other more purportedly ‘serious’ objectives.

There is perhaps no other work so hidden, yet with such real fruits—both for those within the home and the broader community. This work is certainly not for a woman alone. Indeed, such wifery calls for and flourishes alongside a closely connected husbandry—an art similarly in need of rediscovery.

Willa Cather gives voice to what is well-nigh beyond articulation. The woman of a household has a genius—even if as yet undiscovered or undervalued, even if different from her neighbor’s or her mother’s. She has a genius and an opportunity to make a climate within a climate—a work especially arduous when the broader climate is inclement.

By a persistent attention to the concrete, animated by a love of persons and an astute perception of their whole good in all its richness, women craft the special happiness of each day. Even when unnoticed. May they find encouragement, and support, and a gratitude that begins to be commensurate to what they are doing.

**NEW COURSE, OPEN TODAY: Woman of the Household
Open for all women, especially wives and mothers. START HERE.

Willa Cather (American, 1873-1947) was a Pulitzer-winning authoress known especially for her novels of the American frontier, such as O Pioneers! and My Antonia.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Learning to Say Goodbye

Learning to Say Goodbye

May is graduation time. So for many of us, it is a time for goodbyes. It is also a good time to reflect on the importance and even the gift of goodbyes, for all of us. We understandably dread goodbyes, especially with those we love most. Moments of parting can be...

read more
Out Standing on the Earth

Out Standing on the Earth

“Alone of all, the human race lifts up its head on high, and stands in easy balance with the body upright... Thy glance is upward, and thou dost carry high thy head, and so thy gaze is skyward...” Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy Philosophers and theologians,...

read more
Wishing You Many Years

Wishing You Many Years

“Mnohaya lita” Ukrainian wish for birthday and other celebrations, rooted in Byzantine liturgy. Literally, many years. I have always loved the Ukrainian version of “Happy Birthday,” which I first encountered when I met my wife’s family. In its several melodic...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest