Preparing a hope chest is all about skill. It is learning to be skillful at those things that will make a comfortable home. In our present society, few people seem to recognize the work that goes into making a home. It seems that even fewer embrace that work as something they would willingly do for others. Many see the various tasks of homemaking merely as chores, to be hurried through in the corners of their spare time. But I think people still long for a home that is something more than just sufficient, adequate or acceptable. I think if people were really honest, they would rather their home be snug, contented, relaxed, cozy or even, --well, homey.
So, if a hope chest is more than a collection of linens and tableware, how can I train Miss Abigail in the art of making a home? Well, first of all I have to make our home, her home, more than just sufficient so that she recognizes what a home is all about. She needs to have homemaking skills modeled for her. That task has always been mine. (Sigh) There is still so much room for my own improvement and I often fear that I am not that great of a model. But, I have a strong desire, a passion, actually, and, I think that one can identify some basic skills and then set out to learn them.
It is baffling to me that many of these traditional, home-building skills are simply left to chance, as if they can be easily learned later, if ever they might be needed. Many young women of my acquaintance seem to think that, when the time comes, they can just consult the high-end home magazines and watch the so-called home divas sprinkle glitter on birthday banners. As long as they sign up for the wedding registry at the Pottery Barn, they will enjoy the comforts of home. But they don’t know what to do for dinner beyond reaching inside the freezer case at the grocery store or telephoning for pizza delivery. Clothing is given away because of a stain or a ripped hem. I want to help Miss Abigail recognize basic skills, learn and practice them.
I also want to help Miss Abigail develop attitudes that will enable her to be a willing homemaker. Somehow, I have to help guide and train her heart. There is no one-size fits all circumstances way to make and keep a home, but keeping house is part of that long tradition that recognizes the important needs of people to be well-fed, well-clothed, sheltered comfortably, and even to be nurtured. Someone needs to accept that task and it needs to be a deliberate choice. I accept that we don’t always have a choice about the amount of time we devote to it, but, I do believe that the desires of our heart are manifest in the fruit of our hands.
Our Heavenly Father takes these needs very seriously and much scripture is devoted to images and types of our Father as the provider of these homely needs. One of my favorite images in scripture is of a little bird who finds the perfect home in the house of God.
“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.” (Psalm 84:1-4)
This kind of homey comfort, such a refuge where a mother might lay her young, does not happen with slap-dash effort on the part of the householder. Beside capable hands, a willing heart is a most critical component of the hope chest.
So, some of what you see in this blog will be about learning and modeling skills. I hope you won’t mind a little of this, in addition to embroidery patterns and sewing projects. I think of it as the hidden hope chest.