*from Wise Child by Monica Furlong*

After breakfast Juniper began to wash up the dishes,
and she asked me to sweep the floor. I fetched the broom-
stick to humor her, but I thought I’d better have the
housework problem out with her right away.

“I don’t like cleaning or dusting or cooking or doing
dishes, or any of those things,” I explained to her.

“And I don’t usually do it. I find it boring, you see.”

“Everyone has to do those things, ” she said.

“Rich people don’t,” I pointed out.

Juniper laughed, as she often did at things I said
in those early days, but at once became quite

“They miss alot of fun,” she said. “But quite
apart from that–keeping yourself clean, preparing
food you are going to eat, clearing it away afterward–
that’s what life’s about Wise Child. When people
forget that, or lose touch with it, then lose touch
with other important things as well.”

“Men don’t do those things.”

“Exactly. Also, as you clean the house up, it gives
you time to tidy yourself up inside-you’ll see.”

Since I closed my business…and my mom recovered
from her fall…and the most urgent tasks were accomplished
and put behind me…I have become aware of a sort-of
….generosity of space in the day. Most days.
Some days.

On the days when I am able to bring just a little
more clearness and order to our little world…a new
arrangement of furniture, an organizing of paperwork,
a finding of a place for each sock and shoe and shirt
of mine….on those days I feel it most strongly. On
those days, it is a tho’ each little task removes a gauzy
layer of disarray or surfeit that hangs between me
and the peaceful days and rhythms I long for.

And I get a glimmer of the “room and time
enough” feeling that is so lovely, and oft-expressed
in Wise Child, a book which has utterly absorbed
me for the past few days. I have turned down many
little corners of pages in the old paperback copy I
have been reading, and will share more of what made
me turn down those corners in posts to come. Suffice
it to say, I was so taken with Monica Furlong’s
wisdom about home and nature and religion
and Life-expressed through her characters-
that as soon as I closed the book, I hied myself
to the computer, hoping to find that she now had
a blog or website or further books to explore.

Alas, I discovered that she died in 2003, never
having written another book quite like Wise Child…
nothing so domestic or everyday deep.
So I shall gather what I am able from what I have…like
the jewel of the last line that I quoted above. I loved
coming upon “to tidy yourself up inside”….and then
to be able to achieve it through housework! But it is
sometimes true. I have been trying to acquire the practice
of meditation recently, as part of a healing path I am on…
you would think that with twenty-some years of Quaker
worship in my experience, I wouldn’t find it challenging…
but I do. And I am finding that it is often easiest
for me to find that quiet contemplative place as
I hang out the wash or sweep the floor
….and am not rushed.