Late in my undergrad work, I took a course in Greek Myth. I can't remember now if it was required or an elective, but my favorite professor presided over it, and I enjoyed his (often off-topic) ramblings immensely and found the coursework in its entirety to be delightful. Though everything in my evangelical upbringing raised a disapproving eyebrow at ancient mythology, I couldn't help but love it. The stories which wove together a need for knowing and a sense of reverence for the unknown left me amazed at the capacity for human imagination.
And in each story, the presence of the gods and goddesses, the archetypes of personality and temperament and overseers of each realm, were a source of fascination and comfort to me. Each deity was so solidly - so wholly and completely - them in every single myth. Of course Zeus chose that because he could choose no other way and still be Zeus. Without a doubt, Athena responded like that because that was, on every level, the only response Athena would give. And this constancy of character appealed unendingly to me - always capricious, ever the Gemini, constantly trying on new identities and never knowing quite how she fit.
On the final exam for that class, the last question was an essay (of course) in which we were to create and describe a god or goddess we would like to be and then explain why that archetype best suited who we were or who we wanted to be. (Oh, Lit professors. Never change!) And as I began to dream and write, my thoughts turned to Hestia, the muse for my imaginary deity form.
Hestia, Greek goddess of hearth and home, lit a fire within me when I first discovered her. Pragmatic to the core, she chose as her throne a simple wooden chair with only a cushion made of white wool as comfort and decor. Her realm was that of domesticity, the careful Greco-Roman ordering of the home, and in doing so, laying the foundation for the rightful ordering of the community as a whole. Even in my early twenties, I knew there was something about home that warmed my mind and heart and hands.
And so I scrawled out some something that I'm sure was overly-loquacious and waxed on in indulgence of theory and philosophy about how I, as goddess, would be a Hestia-inspired ruler of home and hearth - with the added twist of thoughtful home care not for the sake of duty and orderliness, but rather for the purpose of hospitality and sharing home with others.
Thirty-six year old Megan can pull up a chair next to twenty-one year old Megan and say, "Yeah. I can dig it."
And there have been moments in my life when I feel I truly lived out that guiding vision. Even in reading through my archives here, it's hard to miss the fact that I have long felt an affinity for home life, for the work of marriage and parenting and hospitality and haven-creating.
But when I went through that Radical-driven social justice phase, I began to feel ashamed of my love for the work of the home.
How could I delight in what was happening within the sturdy walls of our safe home when millions were being victimized, exploited, and abused? How dare I give such careful thought to what I fed my family and why when millions have no clean water or food for their own? What difference did my little family make in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God, and how was anything I was doing with my life bringing heaven closer to earth?
These are legitimate questions, and I have wrestled them hard through the years. So I put a damper on my affinity for domesticity, keeping a wary eye on my heart's desires lest I allow my family to become an idol. Even in the past year, I've left our Sunday morning church gatherings more than once feeling a bit demoralized in the wake of a rousing, inspiring talk on Kingdom work knowing that I was quite literally bound to our home because of the reality of bringing two new lives into our fold.
But these past few weeks, y'all, I don't know. I can't explain it. No one thing happened that I can put my finger on, but I've felt a deep sense of freedom in reconnecting with my love for the rhythms of home. I would even go so far as to that I'm experiencing a passion for family life that is unequaled by any other season of life.
Given enough time to naval-gaze, I can suss out some reasons for most anything. I've mulled over the idea that perhaps it is because these babies refuse to yield to predictabilty and schedules that I am so drawn to the Hestia-ordained rhythms of the things in my life that can be counted on to be the same. Daily routines are dear to me more than ever now, how Kyle brews the first round of coffee of the day, and I brew the second. The drawing of baths and the reading of books. The filling of grocery carts and a place for everything and everything in its place on kitchen shelves. Even the Monday night task of rolling out the garbage carts to the curb becomes a sacred ritual, dear to me because it happens without fail every single week.
And there is part of me, too, that wonders if this pull towards and fulfillment within the daily work of home and hearth has been triggered by Kyle's father's sudden death. The jolting realization that really - no, really - all we have is the moment we are in has helped pry my fingers off of my plans for the proverbial and literal tomorrow. All that is real is right now. The glistening of coffee beans and the whirr of the grinder. The gentle resistance of the eggs against the fork, creamy yellow yolks scrambled in a cool white bowl. The coconut oil dances from the flickering heat and one more breakfast is made and served and eaten and done.
And so Hestia beckons me to pull up my chair, to settle in to the downy wool, to warm myself by the fire. Yes, there are counters to wipe and pajamas to fold, but for just a few moments while the coffee is hot, we can sit and conspire and be reminded that there is no shame in thrilling in the routines of home, for the work set before is Good and it is Holy and it is Divine.