Friday, February 19, 2010

Cottage Culture in the 21st Century

They came to a small green gate half-buried in the hedge on the right and almost hidden by the overhanging hazel branches. Miss Honey paused with one hand on the gate and said, "There it is. That's where I live."

Matilda saw a narrow dirt-path leading to a tiny red-brick cottage. The cottage was so small it looked more like a doll's house than a human dwelling. The bricks it was built of were old and crumbly and very pale red. It had a grey slate roof and one small chimney, and there were two little windows at the front. Each window was no larger than a sheet of tabloid newspaper and there was clearly no upstairs to the place. On either side of the path there was a wilderness of nettles and blackberry thorns and long brown grass. An enormous oak tree stood overshadowing the cottage. Its massive spreading branches seemed to be enfolding and embracing the tiny building, and perhaps hiding it as well from the rest of the world.

~ Matilda by Roald Dahl

* * * * *
I've always loved the image a cottage paints.

Poetic. Quaint. Comfort. Peace. Tranquility. Retreat. Beauty.

I'm romantic enough to appreciate this image yet, as a child of the 70's, I'm realistic enough to know that a cottage in the 21st century is hardly a romantic ideal at all. Many times, it's the foundation of jokes as homes and families become a primitive dinosaur to this modern world. Before long, the cornerstones of these cottages will be dug up and no one will know what they once stood for.


Surprisingly to some, revolting to others, there are some of us who truly LOVE staying home and are called to cultivate what we believe is the forgotten realm of our society. We love what is inside our cottages (the heart and soul and breathe) enough to pocket the key to the lauders and butteries and pantries inside our own pockets and not to entrust them to others. There is something safe within the home, something sensitive and nurturing, something apart from the outside world. It is where God has called me...insufficient, undomestically-inclined, hard-headed being that I be...this is where God has called me.
 
Cottage-dwellers wish to live apart. We embrace our homes and the hearts within them above everything else. We are aware of what a privilege and pleasure it is to be the keepers of the keys for these little forgotten cottages: to work in them, care in them, love in them. It is a gift really.We sacrifice the extra income and, often, the respect of family and friends to embrace the heart/hearth life that beats and bleeds within these little cottage.
 
Often people wrongly assume that this utopian lifestyle is selfish and unrealistic. Perhaps. But I've heard what is in the outside world, and these I do not wish to see. So I go through extreme measures to make my world the utopia I wish my family to live in. It is not perfect, but it is golden. I have seen within myself how this lifestyle has made me less self-centered, less selfish and more realistic of the mission I have been assigned on this earth.
 
I take extreme measures to ensure peace within my home, to guard against angry voices within my home, and to create a haven within this worldly havoc. Isn't that what a home is supposed to be? A haven! Isn't that was a home is supposed to offer? Rest from havoc?
 
"An enormous oak tree stood overshadowing the cottage. Its massive spreading branches seemed to be enfolding and embracing the tiny building, and perhaps hiding it as well from the rest of the world." ~ Roald Dahl
 
I realize that the world I have created within my home is much like the monasteries of old and people outside the walls do not understand what takes place within them. It's a mystery to them. It's a hidden world they do not understand within a world they think they understand.
 
But it's my world. It's the place God has put me so that I can better serve Him and be who He wants me to be.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you!! This has encouraged my spirt so much tonight

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  2. What a beautiful post! You have exactly described what I am working for in my home. Thank you!

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  3. This is a beautiful post...and I love cottages too!

    My nest is empty now, but I still try to make our home a safe haven for my husband and myself, and those who visit here. It truly is the calling of God to be a keeper of the home.

    Marsha

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