Sunday, March 2, 2014

The White Post. Or Couch.


At the risk of greatly over-spiritualizing my home decor choices, I'm going to tell you why my favorite color is white.  And why G. K. Chesterton would, I think, approve.



Of course, there's this:

  “White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. ” 
 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
(I know, right, G.K.?!?)

I love white because of its richness, its cleanness, its purity.  And the reason I chose a white palette in my home was because I love ALL the colors and white is the presence of all of them.  Really.  That sounds so dorky but it's true.  I have such an issue with making silly choices like paint colors that a white palette lets me feel like I'm choosing all of them at once.  





When we first moved into this house and I was trying to figure out just what I wanted I kept coming back to the pictures I had ripped out of old Country Living magazines and Pottery Barn catalogs.  All of the ones that resonated with me were the simple white palettes with rustic natural elements mixed in.  They spoke to me of simplicity, of purity, and of an intentional home.  I love other styles, too, of course, but the white just clicked with me because to me, it represents all that is good.



White feels peaceful to me.  It brings clarity and vision to a space and reminds me of the greater purpose for a home.  It brings calm to a mind like mine that is constantly going.


I find that white helps me to focus in a room rather than be distracted.  White allows the colors to speak.  The colors that are there look more beautiful because with a background of white, their beauty is more easily seen. 



(Incidentally, our first home was a rainbow house.  You know, when every room is painted a different color, each without any thought to the other and chosen from a selection without much nuance.  The kitchen was red, the office blue, the bedroom green, the hallway yellow, the living room tan.  It was fine for what it was and it certainly didn't bother us but when we first moved to our grown-up house, my tastes had grown a bit.  I decided I should at least try to have an overall plan.)


And white, as crazy as it sounds, lets me see their beauty better.  These people that are infinitely more important than any home decor choice I make.




But the white, and the boys, and the messes...isn't it impractical?
Well, yes.  Sometimes.  But most of the time, I don't mind.  I try not to make decisions out of fear of the work involved but whether that work will be worth it.  And for me, as silly as it sounds, it is.  In some ways, the white forces me to be a better keeper of my home, this domestic church I've been given.  If anything, it's certainly helped me improve my laundry technique.  I figure things are getting dirty whatever color they are.  The white just forces me to tend to it and not ignore it.  


Which reminds me of this:

We're a work in progress, aren't we?  We aren't really ever done until God says it's time and He takes us.  If we desire to be pure, to be clean, to be holy as He so desires us to be, we can't let up or give up.  The world, the devil, or our own inclinations will swoop right in to fill the void.  We must always be seeking that revolution, begging the Lord to wash us again and to give us the strength to keep on and to save us from the stumbling block of mediocrity.

Oh, I mutter when I see that there is yet another spot on the couch but it reminds me every time that just like this keeping of my domestic church is never done so this work of my soul is never done until He says it is.

The white reminds me that this little work of the home is holy work.  And that sometimes the better option is not the more practical one but the more beautiful one.  (And, of course, I realize that sometimes the better option is the practical one.)  There are constant voices in the world, in the land of blogs, in our own heads, telling us to choose what is more comfortable, what is easier, what is more practical.  Don't overdo it, they say.  There aren't a whole lot of people that encourage you to take the harder option for the sake of something greater.  But that's how I thrive.  

This week, we enter once again into the season of striving.  Of telling our Lord through our choices, our disposition, our words, that yes, we do believe that we were made for more than comfort.  That happiness is fleeting but joy is eternal.  We remind ourselves that this body of ours needs to come under the rule of our will and that requires real work and sacrifice.  It requires pain.  Our resurrection requires a cross.

If I could encourage you about anything this Lent it would be to take on something real.  Don't fall for the practical.  Go for the beautiful.  You may fall or fail, sure, but don't let the fear of failure keep you from trying to do something beautiful for Him.  Let that fear teach you to rely ever more heavily on grace as we learn and relearn that anything great we do only happens through His strength.  Let the falls and failures bring us back to a humble trust in Him alone.  Ask Him what He wants from you this Lent and then go for it.  Bring Him something beautiful.  Because these sacrifices, these offerings, these beautiful works?  These will be the paint upon the brush of the Divine Painter bringing our souls back to white. 







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13 comments:

  1. That was a great post! I think that the "white post" needs a follow-up "laundry tips" post, though!! Maybe it could be called Secrets Behind the White ;) Stain stick? Bleach? I seriously could benefit from tips! :)

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    1. Ha, I may do that! Spoiler alert: I am willing to sacrifice certain crunchy principles for the greater benefits of Oxyclean and bleach ;)

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  2. What an inspiring post, Mary! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I love your home and the beautiful simplicity and purity in your decor that you mentioned. And your white decor certainly promotes great lighting in your pictures too!

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    1. That's actually another reason I really prefer white here! We have so many old trees shading our property and when the leaves are on the house is incredibly dark. When we moved in the previous owners had dark wallpaper, wood, paint and I felt like I was living in a cave. It was such a huge transformation when we painted!

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  3. Very inspiring....I'm the type who usually goes for the practical over the beautiful. That is the way I was raised and how I was taught. I do really love white in decoratingm though. I think I"m the only person who loves white walls and has no desire to paint when we first move into a place.

    I loved the way you talk about taking the harder option for the sake of something greater. I don't do that in my home decor choices, but I do frequently do that in parenting choices (what we eat, homeschooling, how we raise our kids). I love being encouraged to do something "hard" because it's "good". So few people encourage others to "do hard things" and it is something I really need to hear.

    -Amelia @OneCatholic Mama

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    1. Me too. Doulaing has made this so apparent to me. It is so hard to see another person struggling or in pain, especially when they're making that choice, and not want to just fix it. But it's their pain to work through and often what they (we) need is someone to just encourage them and tell them it's a good thing they're doing and not just offer them a way out.

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  4. I love everything about this post! Everything was beautiful! From your words to your home! Thank you for sharing!

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  5. How thrilled you must have been to read GKC's words about the color white! It does sound like you didn't need him to give you decorating ideas, right? You are the perfect illustration of his philosophy, and yes, this post is just the loveliest thing, full of Chestertonian-style connections. I must find a place to re-post it!

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    1. Thanks, Gretchen! It's funny because I say all this and he said those things and yet when I picture him, I see him sitting in a leather chair in a dark, dimly lit room with dark wood trim and smoking a pipe. With a bourbon or scotch in hand :)

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  6. Awesome post! Being a mom of boys too, I always wondered how you kept your house looking so good. White is very calming for me too and I love the simplistic and rustic feel of your pictures. The picture of your bed reminds me of ours when we first married because my mom bought us a white down comforter for a wedding gift. Our bed was white for many years and it always made me so happy to look at the nicely made bed (even when the rest of the house was cluttered). You're right, some things are worth the extra work.

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  7. Well now, your saying that you got to choose all the colors at once by choosing white.... swoon. Yes indeed. And your photos do always always radiate with a homey peaceful sense of beauty. I love this post. Thank you for the Lenten reminders. I need you to write more about Lent because I always seem to go into it kicking and screaming and I know that is NOT healthy or even how He wants me to enter in. Help!

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