This morning I'm blogging at the kitchen counter. It's become one of my favorite venues for general "hanging out". I love cooking in the kitchen; I enjoy reading the newspaper at the counter; I like it when Rebekah sits in the deep rattan easy chair and we talk while I'm preparing a meal... There's a real serenity here.
Admittedly, choosing this venue to write sometimes might have something to do with the sorry organizational state of my study (the picture demonstrates it's not too bad but certainly not what it could be!). But I think it's more that this kitchen has become, architecturally, what it always has been, spiritually. And that's the epicenter of a home that's held together by a lot more than trendy terms like "Feng shui", or "ambient tranquility".
There are a lot of reasons we didn't go ahead with our epic kitchen remodel until our 30th anniversary. Most important was the absence of disposable dollars - going into debt for your feng shui would be counter-intuitive on so many levels.
There's a sense - I believe - in which good architectural design can only enter into a relationship with what already is...
I can't help but think of the systemically unhappy people we know, who built or remodeled a "dream house" with the idea that it would create happiness, or peace, or calm; or add structural integrity to a shaky marriage or a family torn apart by mistrust. As if physical space could heal aloofness, arrogance, infidelity, distance, bitterness, meanness and disappointment.
Then there are the families living in cramped quarters with scant resources - yet experiencing unity, love, support, peace, cooperation and joy; people whose homes radiate self-giving love and mutual respect; families barely making ends meet yet rich in all the ways that count.
I'm no architect (although that was one of my "wanabe's" in high-school days) and Rebekah is the expert imagineer here at Maul Hall. But I do believe that I understand the philosophy of design that works. Design that works has to interact with the spiritual truth of the people who occupy the space.
Or, put another way. Physical space has neither the power to make us happy nor the potency to dampen positive spirits. However, spiritual vitality can work with good design to create dynamic results that bring both elements together.
Most of us remember the classic TV commercial that has a trendy couple present the high-end architect with a faucet and say, "I want you to build a house around this!" My take is more along the lines of "Take this family, its years of commitment and faith and mutually submissive love..."
Now, truthfully, we really don't need much of anything else.
Blessings - DEREK
Blessings - DEREK