Thursday, 16 June 2011

tending the summer hearth

Where is your hearth - the place where sparks are fanned to flame, where warmth is encouraged? Around the kitchen table? The piano? The barbeque? The coffee table? Traditionally, the hearth was made of stone or brick and provided a cozy gathering and warming place. It was also used for life-giving tasks like cooking and heating the home. Tending the hearth was an essential job - to keep the home fires burning so that the people living there could be sustained.

For me, tending the hearth is about intentionally caring for the souls in our home. This means our little family, but also the people who enter. You've heard me bemoan the state of our house, my yearning for a cleaner place, my desire to offer hospitality in meaningful ways. All of these feel like part of the whole hearth tending package to me.

tending the hearth: that ratty, fragile nest with strong, solid hearts within
Today I'm thinking about what hearth tending could look like this summer. And I'm struck by how I can slice up this word "hearth" into h/eart/h: hearth, earth, and heart. I think that all 3 need tending; all 3 have deep spiritual connections to each other. So here's my not-yet-finished list of ways I'd like to tend the hearth this summer.

tending the hearth:
  • de-cluttering, giving away, organizing
  • putting the house on a diet
  • trying to make good food together
  • not letting fresh produce rot in the fridge or on the counter - eating it or preserving it before it's too late
  • savouring meals
  • clearing space; leaving room for surprises; keeping an empty shelf
  • inviting others over for backyard barbeques even if the house is messy
  • singing around backyard bonfires, making s'mores and banana boats and tinfoil dinners
  • making a rainbow of jelly: raspberry (red), red hot pepper (orange),  dandelion (done! bright yellow), mint (green), blueberry (blue), grape (purple)
tending the earth:
  • gardening, watering, weeding
  • walking
  • biking
  • learning more perennial flower names
  • learning to identify some more bird songs
  • pondering the heavens by learning the names of the different kinds of clouds (I forget them!) and learning a new constellation
tending the heart:
  • reading just for fun
  • slowing down and being still
  • eating a whole container of peanut butter chocolate ice cream all by myself
  • swimming under a starlit sky in the middle of a northern lake
  • singing with my husband as he strums on the guitar
  • taking a sabbath rest once a week
  • taking a "digital sabbatical" while on holidays or day trips with my family
  • praying by paying attention to the little things, and expanding them out through photos or writing or talking to others
  • being open to surprises and to nudgings of the Spirit
What ideas do you have to tend the h/eart/h this summer?


  1. Each summer I promise myself that we will all slow down and enjoy the summer together: Being able to be outside, swimming, biking, going to the market, having time just to be... But try as I might, it doesn't happen as much as I want!


  2. yes - life in all its fullness continues on, even in the summer!

  3. I love the earth, hearth, heart connection with these words! Never saw the connection before. Love. I think I will form my own hearth, earth, heart list. :)

  4. Do share! I'd love to hear your ideas. Hey - we could parse this word even further with "hear" and "ear." That's a bit much for me, though.

  5. Rebecca, I love this list! So practical. Within reach.

    Okay, here are mine (off the top of my head!) ...

    hearth: getting kids to tidy rooms and clean up after playing; inviting friends over for meals; rearranging living-room space to emphasize piano and couches for sitting/reading, and de-emphasize tv/computer

    earth: biking on errands; preserving food; attempting to grow food; sitting outside, being outside, working outside

    heart: spending summer with kids; making music; blogging; reading; running/swimming/cycling/yoga; dreaming

  6. I'll have to steal some of your ideas, Carrie - like dreaming, spending summer with kids, blogging/writing, and getting kids involved in household tidying!