Haven. The single word that crossed my mind when I pulled up behind this little gem of a space earlier today:
It didn’t attract me because it was perfect, but rather because it was lovely, and because someone had clearly taken the time and care to make it so.
Why was I struck by my view as I got out of the car this morning? I think it’s because loveliness is a curated thing–something that we move toward and put effort into that results in a noticeable shift, whether in our mindset, our space or our character. Sure, there are lovely things in the world that require no effort on our human part, but outside of Creation, loveliness is acquired, intentional and intentionally maintained.
To be lovely is to work at building up our appearance from the inside out, starting with fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness and self-control–ones that shape who we are and how we present ourselves to others. Someone who is making an effort to grow in these areas can become a haven to anyone they meet. They are a place of peace and solitude, a place of rest, a willing and hospitable friend, a pillar of strength. Likewise, spaces like the above cultivate a sense of welcome and invitation. They say “someone took time to care about how this looked and felt to others.” Not just simply for one’s own enjoyment, a haven is a space where many can enter and feel safe, comfortable and at peace.
I don’t typically wander around all day admiring spaces and thinking to myself, “that’s such a lovely little haven,” but I did today. And why? I presume it’s because my mind is focused on our own little haven and how I desire so much to create a space of welcome and peace and loveliness for our little babe, for whenever he or she enters our family and joins our home.
I’ve worked at offering a hospitable and cozy space to our baby for nine months now, and I’m not sure I could do better than a warm, safe, tucked away womb. In the absence of that, however, it’s certainly instinctual to want baby’s new space to be wonderful in every way, so that he or she feels loved and warm and welcome.
It’s true that babies do not perceive the difference between a soft sheet in a crib and nursery walls perfectly decorated in gallery collections of photographs and artwork. They do not value matching furniture or high end baby toys or brand name anything over warm snuggles and time close to mom and dad. A haven to a baby is a warm, safe space where they are loved well and fed well and nurtured with care. I don’t have to lift a decorating finger to provide that.
As I seek to strike a balance (still) between my hopes and desires in this end-of-pregnancy nesting phase, I am trying hard to remember that a perfectly appointed nursery is more a haven for me than for our baby, who will know of nothing amiss unless I’m not at peace myself. Then, he or she will feel that tension, and I will not exude the fruits of the spirit in my mothering…nor will I be the haven that I’m called to be as I pursue motherhood with intention and care.
When I consider the space in the photo above, I’m reminded that a little TLC and a lot of intention will be the ultimate factors in determining how I cultivate “haven” in my home and in my heart in the next few weeks, and in the many more that come after. Do my children find me a welcome space to bring their own hearts, their troubles, their celebrations and their fears? Does our littlest one cuddle up with a sense of safety and wellbeing when I am right close? As much as our space is a reflection of where we are and how we choose to live, our hearts are an even better indication. Am I doing all I can to offer the very best parts of my mothering heart, even as I fritter away at the aesthetic things that matter only to me?
I want to be inclined toward beauty–not in a way that consumes me with feelings of inadequacy, but in a way that calls out the softest parts of me, in order that I might be a safe and lovely resting place for the people I care about most.
pursuing the heart of the matter as i nest and fold and plan and repeat,