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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The False Dichotomy Between "Work" and "Home" For Many... Part II:

Paraphrased from: Composing A Life by, Mary Catherine Bateson, copyright 1989, "A radical rethinking the concept of achievement." -San Francisco Chronical

From my first posting, in September 2009, directly quoting from Mary Catherine Bateson's work, "Composing A Life":    

     "As I began to thing about the lives of women in this project, I was struck by the diversity of their homes and the spaces they created to live and work, by these concrete expressions of who we are. Joan is the only one of us who has spent long periods of her life as a traditional full-time homemaker. I have visited the Eriksons in at least half a dozen of their houses across the country. Joan talks about the sense of light and openness she tries to achieve for Erik, and I recognize familiar brightly colored pieces of art and handicraft from one house to the next, but they are always artfully recombined, each object at rest in its new place. Of all of us, Joan has the clearest understanding of how objects that enrich the senses can also enrich human relationships.
     It is possible to create a context of sharing with very simple material cues. This idea is best expressed by the old notion of sacrament. This word has been shaped and often abused by the Christian tradition, but it is still useful express an idea that occurs in many cultures: that the most ordinary materials. like bread and clay, as well as those that are rare and shining, are carriers of meaning, and that the proper action taken with these materials, around the day of the calendar, have a transformative value. The old Anglican catechism defined a sacrament as "an outward and visual sign of an inward and spiritual grace." I prefer the statement that turns up in some Catholic theological discussions: "a sacrament effects what it signifies." *The lighting of Sabbath candles, the giving of gifts, the preparation and sharing of food_ all have the potential to bring about human closeness, as well as simply referring to it.                                  

     When my husband and I visited his family in Beirut on our honeymoon I was frustrated to find that my courteous and highly educated in-laws answered me in English whenever I spoke to them in Armenian. Then, on the fourth or fifth day of our visit, his mother set out to make chee kufta, a dish in which finely ground lean lamb is kneaded at length with bulgar wheat, parsley, and onions until the raw meat simply disappears into the wheat. It's one of those dishes, shaped by their mother's hands. that sons go home to eat. Greatly daring, I went into the kitchen and took over the kneading. After that day, my in-laws began to answer me in Armenian, the kneading of meat and grain and the sharing of what I had prepared having transformed me into a different person, just as the mother of a new priest is suddenly shy with her son after he has been touched with sacred oils, just as desire becomes holy after the exchange of wedding rings. 

*Enchiridion Symbolorum: Definitions et rationum de rebus civii et morum, 33rd edition, ed. H. Denzinger. Freiburg: Herder, 1965. Nos. 1606, 1639. 

Only 7 more pages, after transcribing 12. 5 pages... to be continued. It won't be as long as 2.5 years. 

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