I’ve passed Phase One of the Great Domestic Goddess Challenge: the house has undergone a MAJOR decluttering. It’s been five weeks, I’ve filled my big outdoor trash container to near-overflowing, have lost count how many bags of trash and broken-down boxes I’ve discarded.
Some of these things, some of the glass jars, for instance, I might have recycled; but after so many years of being in the mice’s traffic pattern, I don’t think I could ever have gotten them clean enough to be able to overlook that they’ve made up the monkey bars and obstacle courses for the winter invasion of mice. . . so to the trash they went. Plastic stuff, like coffee cans I was so sure would make wonderful canisters. Paper. Shredded old clothes. Badly outdated and rusty canned foods. Broken items that aren’t going to be repaired or recycled. Stuff I haven’t used. Stuff I don’t want to use. Stuff I don’t know how to use (mostly hardware stuff).
Feels absolutely wonderful! and this week I go to Phase TWO: Recycling. For all the stuff I have thrown away, I’ve set a lot of shelves and a pair of bifold doors and a set of scales and pictures I don’t want and a mirror and a lot of salvageable stuff to be carried to charity thrift shop. Students here have a half-day later in the week, and a young friend has volunteered to come help me load up my car and haul it all there — God bless him!
Why does this matter? Not only for health’s sake — although it will be easier to fight the mice and the bugs that came in during the flood season last spring (and aren’t responding to ordinary bug sprays) with all the junk gone. It’ll be a lot easier to keep the house clean – vacuumed, dusted, mopped — with all these things in the way.
No. Somehow I have the feeling that my part in the Great Battle — the battle between Good and Evil, the battle for souls — begins with my success, or at least my dedication to the domestic sphere.
I’m still sorting this out. Women must be engaged in this Great Battle just as men must be, but I’m convinced our function is different. Men are the wielders of the swords, literally and figuratively; women most of the time have a supporting role — no less important, but different. Ask a military troop – active duty or veteran — if they could fight without support services, and see what they say. Their success on a mission depends on having food in their belly, needed supplies at hand, accurate record of their objective, etc. That’s what we provide. In our homes, we provide the place where our sword-wielder, our men, can rest from the battle, prepare for the next, have his spirit refreshed and his strength restored.
Sure, in history there have been exceptions: the prophetess Deborah and Joan of Arc, Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife). And a few of us might be called to follow their example. But most of us are not. The Battles of Lepanto and Tours and Gates of Vienna were won by men whose women were backing them up — and joining them in prayer.
Now, I’m single and I don’t know yet how this is going to apply to me. But it does. Even if I discover, to my horror, that I’m called to be a sword-wielder, somehow, I still have primary responsibility for hearth and home.
Not a popular idea, any more, with Feminism and all. But I believe Feminism has gone too far: from being valued for our personal skills and competencies, and being allowed to pursue our dreams, we are now competing against men. Competing against, and denigrating them. And violating our own sacred calling as nurturers and carers in the world. This is destructive, not desirable. We need to recover our balance in order to have safe and prosperous communities, and in order that Good might flourish.