This has been my first move where my family has been around to help. Before, I’ve been a gazillion miles away. Now I’m only one and a half from them. So they, along with my mother-in-law and cousin, spent the day unpacking my kitchen. While I was doing something in the living room, I heard my mom say to my cousin how much “days like today” make her miss her mother. She wanted to share it with my grandmother –to call her up and tell her all about it.
As my cousin unpacked a cookie jar, she laughed and remembered aloud how my grandmother kept her cooking utensils in that jar. It brought a wave of placement to my kitchen. My grandmother’s kitchen was warm – well, usually hot – from something boiling, steaming, roasting, frying or cooking on her stove. She taught me how to make gravy – the long, slow, deeply rich kind – on that stove. And to the left of it was my cookie jar. It now has a retired place above my cabinet. But her other dishes fill another cabinet. Those ones are for use.
My grandmother’s name was Allie Ruth. Everybody called her Ruth.
And then there’s another Ruth around here. The one who lived here before. The one who took a plain house and made it adorably beautiful. The one who stayed up late nights working on projects to make the house cozy as well as sophisticated. She made us a lovely nest. And even left us fun and thoughtful surprises when we moved in. And then came back to introduce us to our neighbors. What a gift! We stood outside for a long while, meeting everyone… and in a neighborhood where everyone acts like neighbors, we were welcomed with open arms.
I don’t know. Somehow it feels right. My grandmother would have liked her. Both women who knew how to work hard and make ordinary things wonderful… Women who were not afraid of power tools and loving people with a fierceness. Prayer warriors who cooked and cleaned and mended what was broken.
These Ruths leave a legacy for me. Physical reminders to use my home wisely. Not to keep it just as a refuge for ourselves, but as a refuge for other people… to use it as ground zero of loving and serving our neighborhood. Of working diligently to provide an atmosphere where people feel like they can breathe deeply. And praying that the Spirit helps everyone who crosses our threshold to stretch out their souls.
So, stop by sometime. I’ll cook something yummy and we’ll have a long chat. And hopefully, I’ll live up to all that I’ve inherited.