I have so enjoyed passing through this book again. I first read it over a decade ago when we were sketching and dreaming and musing about bringing children separated from their biological families closer to “living family”. It has been encouraging to read again these ideas, bounce them around a bit, think again about the craft of a family.
All that to say, this particular chapter resonates.
The hinges should be well-oiled to swing the door open during certain times, but the lock should be firm enough to let people know that the family needs to be alone part of the time, just to be a family. If a family is really shared, then there needs to be something to share. Whatever we share needs time for preparation.
If we are going to share bread, we need to be provided with the flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, milk, and whatever else we might put in it, and we need to have time to make the dough and bake it before it can be shared. If we took flour, sugar, a cake of yeast, some milk or water, and an egg or two, and tossed them out the window for someone begging for bread, a nasty mess would fall at his feet in a form that would do him no good. It seems to me that there is a danger of having a door so open that there might just as well not be walls, so that there is no shelter at all to enter. In the same way, the family to be shared can also be in a state of just being the raw, scattered ingredients of a family, which need time to become the “bread” which could be helpful to the hungry one needing the reality of a family to share. The kneading and molding and mixing and blending are things which go on throughout a lifetime of putting a family together, but if a certain amount of the togetherness of the ingredients has not taken place, there is nothing at all to share, and the one seeking help comes to an “empty table”. The door is the same thing, in the sense that one thinks of people – who are looking for a door – as needing shelter. If there is no lock on the door, there has never been a shelter for anyone. The family cannot be sheltered, nor does it have protection, if there is no possibility of locking itself in and others out – at certain times of need or special danger. If the storm can blow in the door, and the rush of rain can flood the house; if wolves can follow the dogs into the house, and there is no real protection at all – how can the home and family together be sheltered or become a shelter for anyone else needing help or a place of refuge? Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?
We’re going to spend a few days unpacking these ideas because they have such broad implications across so many spheres of life.
If a family is really shared, then there needs to be something to share, and whatever we share, needs time for preparation.
We’ll come back to this tomorrow, but for today, let’s just spend some time thinking about the slow, gentle process of creating family – the mixing of ingredients, the rise of the dough, the kneading and shaping, the setting to rise again, the warming of the oven, the bread fresh from the heat – the taste of fresh, homemade loaves – nothing quite compares.