"Most Christian families seem not to feel their very family-ness as sacred. They fail to name their most profound moments of shared memory birth, death, sexual intimacy, estrangement, forgiveness, gathering, the daily struggles to be with and for each other with words associated with religion or the spiritual life," observes Wendy M. Wright in this beautifully written book. It is structured as a contemplative walk through a home, pointing out the allusive meanings of various rooms and possessions. The author, who has taught the history of spirituality and family spirituality, is a regular contributor to Weavings and Praying. She believes that we incarnate the virtues of Jesus when we practice love, wonder, hospitality, nurturing, reverence, and hope in our homes and in our relationships with those closest to us.
To give an example of the elegance of Wright's writing and her rich appreciation for the meaning of family ties, here is one of her musings:
"The spiritual life of the family also spans the generations. Beyond the threshold of the door through which the ever-changing life of the family passes, is the hallway. Like the corridors in a medieval castle, the walls of the hallway are lined with the family's heraldry. Here the family identity is expressed in the dozens of faces that peer from photographs or painted portraits: a picture of the bride and groom, a snapshot of the first child in the arms of her aunt, a portrait with all the family members formally posed wearing their Sunday best, a picture of the high school prom, a college graduate in solemn black robes, grandparents standing in front of the farm back home, an uncle in military dress who died in a long-ago war.
"The spiritual life of the family encompasses all these faces. An intertwining of destiny, of shared gifts, of collectively suffered pain makes the family a profoundly interdependent entity."
Whether writing about the kitchen, the bedroom, the porch or a rocking chair, Wright refreshes our appreciation of these places, which may have lost their luster for us. We loved her suggestion, with a nod to the early Fathers, that every home should have a "Christ-room in it so that hospitality can be practiced." This soulful book gives us a depth-charged revisioning of the home as a sacred dwelling and a workshop for the Spirit.