Holy Homemaking: A Response from Rachel Held Evans
If you spend much time surfing around the evangelical blogosphere, you have probably heard about my second book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson). You may have heard that it's a humorous exploration about what the Bible says (and doesn't say) about women, or that it delves into some controversial topics regarding gender, or that it's an abomination that makes a mockery of Scripture and fails to distinguish between the "Old Law" and the New Covenant. Some of these rumors are true; others are not.
Another rumor you may have heard is that the book disparages homemaking. Several readers inferred this from Jen Pollock Michel's recent Her.meneutics article, "What You Don't Know about Complementarian Women," but nothing could be further from the truth.
In A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I devote an entire chapter to homemaking. As I refocused on my own homemaking skills (or lack thereof!), I confess at one point that "it was out of ignorance and insecurity that I ever looked down my nose at women who make homemaking their full-time occupation." Keeping the home, I say, "requires creativity, problem solving, innovation, and resourcefulness."
The chapter concludes with the following reflection. As you'll see, it's in full agreement with Michel's view that keeping a home is sacred and dignifying work:
When Brother Lawrence sought sanctuary from the tumults of 17th-century France, he entered a Carmelite monastery in Paris, where his lack of education relegated him to kitchen duty. Charged with tending to the abbey's most mundane chores, Brother Lawrence nevertheless earned a reputation among his fellow monks for exuding a contagious sense of joy and peace as he went about his work—so much so that after his death, they compiled the few maxims and letters and interviews he left behind into a work that would become a classic Christian text: The Practice of the Presence of God.
"The time of business," explained Brother Lawrence, "does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."
For Brother Lawrence, God's presence permeated everything—from the pots and pans in the kitchen sink to the water and soap that washed them. Every act of faithfulness in these small tasks communicated his love for God and desire to live in perpetual worship. "It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God," he said.
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