|Peasant Family at the Dinner Table by Jozef Israëls|
"I usually say that you need only two things, two pieces of matter, to make a home: a bed and a table. It's an oversimplification, but it's a good one...For Bed and Board are the fundamental geographical divisions of the family; they are the chief places, and it is in them and around them that we dance the parts we are given."
"He who perished by a tree is saved by a tree. He who died by an apple is restored by eating the flesh of his Saviour. Our lust is to be healed by being brought down to one bed, our savagery tamed by the exchanges around a lifelong table. Bed, Board, rooftree and doorway become the choice places of our healing, the delimitations of our freedom. By setting us boundaries, they hold us in; but they trammel the void as well. By confining, they keep track of us -they leave us free to be found, and to find ourselves. The vow of lifelong fidelity to one bed, one woman, becomes the wall at the edge of the cliff that leaves the children free to play a little, rather than be lost at large. Marriage gives us somewhere to be."
"The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entire ceremonial pat on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody's marriage, the first used and the last left, and no one can praise it enough."
"We were meant to meet, to sustain and to ease each other, and in the marriage bed we lie down to do just that. It is an island in a sea of troubles, where there is nothing else to do but rest and refresh. Yet how resourceful we are, with our turned backs and stubborns silences, or with our interminable pouts and dreadful debates about What's Wrong With Us."
"People admit is hard to pray. Yet they think it's easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing..."
"The table can make us or break us. It has its own laws and will not change. Food and litter will lie upon it; fair speech and venom will pour across it; it will be the scene of manners and meanness, the place of charity or the wall of division, depending. Depending on what is done with it, at it and about it. But whatever is done, however it enters, it will allow only the possible, not the ideal. No one has ever created the Board by fiat. God himself spread his table, but Judas sat down at it. There is no use in thinking that we all have to do is wish for a certain style of family life, and wait for it to happen. The Board is a union of thing and persons; what it becomes depends on how the thing is dealt with by the persons."
"The Board will always give birth to liturgy."
"[I]t is precisely the absence of visible liturgy that nowadays makes the common life less obvious to common men."
"Few of us have very many great things to care about, but we all have plenty of small ones; and that's enough for the dance. It is precisely through the things we put on the table, and the liturgies we form around it, that the city is built; caring is more than half the work."
Under His sun and by His grace,