Book Club:: Hallowed Be This House

The last chapter of our February book, Hallowed Be This House: Finding Signs of Heaven in Your Home, The Bedroom. Thomas Howard again emphasizes the constant theme, “My life for yours.”

 

As a married woman, mother of 7, my thoughts on the bedroom will look differently than Emily’s and I would hope that Miss Emily would please share all her wonderful thoughts with us in the comments or in a post I can link to.  (Yeah!  Emily took the bait and wrote about the bedroom from a single woman’s perspective.)

 

This total self giving, or at least the supposed self giving, can take many forms in the bedroom. Howard begins with talk of conception and comes full circle to talk of death. Both are a laying down of life…or a beginning of a new life. And so the bedroom is rightly called a place of beginnings and ends.

 

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This total giving of self, hhmmm…How many times does our gift of self dissipate before the door even shuts behind us? And our husband, well, he’s left with the crumbs…Oh, and we want the lights out even though we’re already covered by an old gym shirt and years of insecurity?

 

And when we do have the lights on, what do they reveal?  Is our bedroom junk drawer of the house?  Laundry scattered, toys strewed, papers stacked here and there and a night stand with a tower of dusty books reaching higher and higher as if infused with the same magic Jack and his infamous beanstalk were?

 

The saying goes the kitchen is the heart of the home.  I contend the bedroom is the heart of the family. If there is discord in the bedroom…there will be discord in the family.

 

Right before Leo was born I started making my bed regularly, turning on some soft Gregorian Chant and using a candle warmer to set the mood for our bedroom.  Now, Chris could care less about any of the stuff.  But for me, it made my bedroom a sanctuary.  Now, since Leo’s birth, my bed is not made regularly, some days I forget the music or candle warmer…and the bedroom loses its oasis like qualities; it has just become another room in the house.  It is not set apart as a mysterious sacred space in which the whole family benefits.

 

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And your bedroom is a sacred space.  It is in the bedroom we become co-creators with God.  (Without being vulgar, I realize there are other rooms in the house in which intimacy can be achieved.)  The bedroom most clearly express the reoccurring theme of laying our life for another in two very distinct ways.

 

And in the rite of conception, we can see, as we have seen in a dozen other exchanges and acts around the house, the whole story in one little act.  Here, life is “laid down” quite dramatically, in order that the life of love may be born anew, and that literal new life may come into being. The exactness of the picture is astonishing, not to say amusing: both bodies laid down, like the corn of wheat; both laid open, like the corn of wheat. Vulnerability, defenselessness, giving and receiving–nay, giving and receiving wholly indistinguishable from each other, for who will keep tally in these blissful exchanges to make sure the score is even?  My life laid down for you; our two lives laid down, becoming one life, and in this laying down and union, lo, the springing forth of new life.  My service to you turning out to be joy.  Your life laid down for me turning out to be joy. Your acceptance of me being itself your gift to me.
Hallowed Be This House: Finding Signs of Heaven in Your Home

 

And the two distinct ways our life is laid down? One, when we lay down our life, we do so with the least shred of pride. There is not time to think of self, only of the one whom we are willing to sacrifice our very life for. And yet how often do we shun a compliment from our husband? Dress quietly behind the bathroom door or wait until it’s dark? How often do we never fully relax and enjoy the most intimate of moments–two bodies becoming one? And so we have not truly laid our life down…we’ve covered it in thick blankets of wool and darkness. We’ve kept a part of ourselves hidden so as not to be hurt, laughed at or scorned. We assessed the risk and figured it to be of too great a price. The sacrifice of  our  life has not been made.  We kept a part of ourselves back.

 

We may not be willing to splay ourselves in front of the body we vowed unity, but we push ourselves wide open to bring forth a new life…the second way we lay our life down in the bedroom. Each new soul that enters a family brings its own special set of graces…it also demands its own special set of sacrifices. This pregnancy may demand the physical sacrifice of the very food we eat; nine months permeated with bouts or days or even months of nausea. And yet another pregnancy may seemingly demand very little but the colicky baby more than makes up for the nine months of expectant bliss.

 

We easily see the need a child has for us to sacrifice all: sleep, comfort, self…in order to care for the defenseless.  But what about our husbands?  They have the same need of us.  They need our complete sacrifice as well.  And they are just as defenseless.  Just as defenseless as we are when we slip under the sheet in the skin we came into the word.  The baby and the grown man, both vulnerable in the skin God gave ‘em.  Our men are at their most vulnerable and they cry…only silently.  They want to be completely accepted.  They want to be totally needed.  They want unconditional love.  We do not deny these things to a creamy white skinned baby, why deny them to the grown man?

 

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Well, “He can hurt me like a baby can’t,” we may contend.  And yet we carry that same power.  Our wicked tongues compare them or tear them down as they lay naked next to us.  Or our own bodies stiffen as they approach.  The “closed” sign slapped in their face.

 

Each sacrifice, one of laying with our man and one of laying down to bring forth man–none the more sacred than the other. The process of bringing new life into the world emanates from the sacrifice of being totally known. It is no coincidence the Bible says “Adam knew his wife.”  And that one little word brings me back to my initial thought…the bedroom is the heart of the family.  This “knowledge” must be rightly ordered or the family will suffer various forms of disorder.

 

I almost hate to bring this up…Years ago when I would watch Dr Phil, he said something one time that made so much sense.  I will paraphrase to make it less crude.  Basically, if things are going fine in the bedroom, that part of your marriage equals about 10%.  If things are going poorly, it’s about 90%.

 

The bedroom is the heart of the family.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, this chapter on the bedroom.   I’m sorry this post was so late in coming up, I couldn’t quite get the words together.  Hopefully I did now.

Welcome! I’m Jenny, the administrator of Suscipio and author of The Catholic Child’s Teaching Bible©. I have been married to Chris 20 years, strictly by the grace of God. We have seven precious souls from teen to baby. I hope my personal contribution to Suscipio shows what my life really looks like; It’s messy and beautiful and blessed beyond measure. I can also be found at Big Family Small Farm.

 


11 Comments

  1. The bedroom is the place where the reality of the mystery of God’s love is made known to each other. Hopefully this is a place where God’s compassionate love embraces us in each other….
    It makes sense that we keep our rooms beautiful, just as our churtch’s are beautiful, and our other sacred spaces, places of prayer are kept beautiful….
    If this is where we experience Jesus’ compassionate love, it too deserves to be a place of beauty…
    God bless

  2. This is so good, Jenny: I shall write my own reflections on my blog later today about this!
    But as for me: (I’ll have pics up later, promise!) it’s a sanctuary. When I lived with my parents it was my everything–but now, it’s essentially *just* for sleeping. It’s very quiet. It’s at the back of the house. No TV, no iPod dock–just my bed, my dresser, a trunk (which holds linens and some old medical equipment), two nighttables (one is stocked with prayer books and journals, the other with my Penguin classic hardcovers), and that’s it. I *love* my bed. I want my bedroom to be a quiet, peaceful place. That doesn’t always happen because sometimes the clothes pile up on the trunk… :)
    As a single woman, this chapter had me nodding a lot–but I can’t say how I’d practice it. My parents’ room was always sort of off-limits: “Sacred Space”, when we were kids. You didn’t go into the parents’ room just because.
    Emily recently posted..Home Sweet HomeMy Profile

  3. Although I try to make our bedroom “our” sanctuary, we are the parents of seven children. We have co-slept with all of our children. It just makes night time nursing so much easier for me. So Leo either sleeps in between us or we have a twin bed pushed up next to ours. You learn to work around situations.

    It’s kind of funny, but every night after prayer, Chris heads to bed. At least one, sometimes two kids follow him and lay next him and give him a back rub or just talk quietly. The constant is our 7 year old daughter; she always follows daddy to bed to give him a back rub. I typically stay up later nursing the baby to sleep, settling the house, talking with the teens. Every so often I go to lay the baby down and find a sleeping 7 year old. So maybe it’s a sanctuary for them as well?

    Theresa, I agree about it being easier when everyone was in bed by 9 pm. I was just thinking that this week. “It” not necessarily being the marital embrace. “It” being anything. I like a quiet house by 9 pm, but that seems to be the only time my older children have me to themselves…well, me and Leo, lol!
    Jenny recently posted..Book Club:: Hallowed Be This HouseMy Profile

    • Yes I can see where the evenings would be an important part for the older children when the younger ones are quieter.

      How sweet your 7 yr old daddies girl…he sounds like a super dad.

      • Yes…we have the 8 year old who ends up between us after she spends some time in her own bed. She still can’t fall asleep without our presence. I think that is so beautiful that you have allowed your room to be a sanctuary for all.

        I understand those later night, too, when I would rather be curled up with a book in bed but oldest daughter is in the mood to talk.

        Oh…I miss those nursing nights : )
        Theresa recently posted..Prayer life in the TransfigurationMy Profile

        • My goodness you ladies humble me! ;) My son is teething so wants nursing more than usual…you teach me that every moment to just be because it all passes too quickly!

          Oh and I just wanted to clarify that i sleep with the kids lol…they are just not allowed to throw things around my room anymore and make it look like playdoh land. lol. But they are welcome to in their own! (Mess is Yes)

    • That sounds so lovely, Jenny…I’m 30 and I am still a daddy’s girl. :) Once and forever, right? :)
      Emily recently posted..Home Sweet HomeMy Profile

  4. I think I am going to sit and *listen* for a bit on this one. This was an excellent post Jenny…really. And I loved your comment Samantha…how nice you have a room to call your *own*…love it.

    I can only say for now, it’s gets harder as the kids get older, believe or not. It was easier when they were all in bed and asleep by 9! Now they are up getting midnight snacks, etc.

    Add to that the stress of raising older children, depression, being on-call for work during the night and the fact that my childbearing years are over…I will say no more.

    I know this is an area I pray for frequently…for God’s grace. I think often of the Wedding Feast of Canaa and how our Blessed Mother said to Jesus *They have no wine.* I ask her to implore the same petition on our behalf.

    Well, I did more than *listen* but hope to add more as thoughts and comments are shared.
    Theresa recently posted..Prayer life in the TransfigurationMy Profile

  5. I did not join ya’ll in reading this book. Apparently I need to. But I loved your post and I hope to come back and see lots of comments. I am almost 50, my husband 53. We do love our bedroom. This transition to the less physical and it is still a precious and sacred room I’m happy to say.

    Yes, I do think I need to read this book!
    Blessings,
    Emily
    Emily D. recently posted..Body Image – Children Hurt Too…My Profile

  6. This one I can attest to without being personal as yes I suppose intimacy can be had in other rooms lol.

    We had a room for my daughter and two beds in our room. It became somewhere people threw things, it was a space the kids could go. Of course with attachment parenting, Liam slept with me….usually Andrew ended up in another bed etc which happens during those months with a nursing child. (I got a man….just a little one ha) But there was NO sanctuary. None. No where for us to go. And the other rooms didn’t work. It wasn’t OUR space. It is not sexy after someone trips over Thomas the Train and almost kills herself. it is not sexy if you hear pitter patter and toilet flush, and i could go on.

    We put another bed into the large room. We took the smaller room. The kids are together. Usually i sleep there too….but we have a space. I hung pictures we like, I make the bed every morning. I put a comfy chair in there, our favorite books, candles. There is never laundry in that room. Everyday Andrew comes home, if nothing else can be clean, that space is. And it’s not just about sex. Since we made a space where no toys are allowed (they have the rest of the house, surely we can have one room), no playing allowed unless it is with mom and dad, (we are known to boogy down with our stereo lol) our relationship is better. Sometimes we do the daily readings, talk, read together, listen to music, light candles, be a little more spontaneous, CONNECT. It is much easier in a space like that to connect. Without chaos. Children are the fruit, but it began with us. I learned how sacred the bedroom is on more than one level. The couple is the foundation through Christ. If the foundation is messy and crumbled, the rest follows….happier parents are happier kids.

    My daughter now says, Is Andrew in ‘the grown up place?’ (i could make so many jokes here haha) but really, she understands. We hug more, smile more, talk more. SPACE. Our space.

    As far as giving of our whole selves…it is easier when your space is more beautiful, then you feel beautiful too. I tend to relax more!

    Thank you for this topic as it really is a HUGE part of a relationship.

    I was also thinking about teens. Remember when your bedroom was a place you ran to? Because it was yours, away from little brothers or parents. It had posters and music and things about your identity. The same applies for a married couple…it should reflect your identities as a married couple. The things that brought you together in the first place.

    Bedroom Blessings! (had to say it ;)

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