Ellis Peters (1913-1995) is a nom de plume used by Edith Pargeter, an English author who wrote prolifically but is probably best known for her murder/mystery Brother Cadfael series. The title of this chapter is taken from her book, Ellis Peter’s Shropshire. Ellis Peters held a Christian worldview. She never married and travelled extensively, but her home in England was her base; the place she always returned to and loved best of all.
“Other places can be where I exult and wonder. This is where I put my feet up and thank God.”
In this chapter, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay speaks into our fast-moving, rushing age, to pause and consider whether it’s worth making some major changes to enable us to be at home in one familiar place – our home, our community and our surroundings.
Is your home a place you enjoy returning to? A place where you put up your feet and feel thankful? Or is it a place you like to escape from?
We haven’t had a lot of holidays as a family. With nine of us it was expensive and difficult to find suitable accommodation for all of us so if we went away it was usually to see family. As much as I enjoy new places and long drives, I always enjoy coming home and doing things here that are not part of my usual daily routine. Some people don’t relax unless they get away from their everyday situations or get out of mobile phone reception where work pressures can’t interrupt them but that’s not always possible or affordable.
Ellis Peters saw the exotic places she visited not as escapes but as ‘Sunday treats’ or ‘Graces to ornament and vary the basic stability of a weekday life.’ What a lovely description and attitude!
What we believe as individuals and as a culture dictates how we live. Who we are and what we believe is our purpose in this life are the foundations we build upon.
“Homes are not just for couples with children. All of us from babyhood to oldest age, single or married, benefit from the comfort, familiarity, and security of having a real home.”
We all need stability and a sense of community and many varieties of homes for believers have been modelled since ancient biblical times to the present. Ellis Peters, Charlotte Mason, Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Goudge, John Stott, and C.S. Lewis (for most of his life) were single people who created homes that were rich in life and hospitality – exceptional people we might think, but ‘good enough’ homes can be made by ordinary people. We all have boundaries and limitations but when these are accepted it may be the making of our souls, and a magnanimous and wise life.
“If (homes) are to endure, it means sticking to homemaking when it all seems bleak.”
The rules the Bible gives us were given by the Designer to enable us to live life at its best and not to make us miserable.
‘The only base for life, either as a single person or for marriage (and for any home or community), is the perfectly dependable Jesus Christ.’
I appreciate the author’s realism in that she addresses situations such as marriage breakdowns or where there are limitations of some sort. She stresses the need for community and to avoid being isolated. We need to bear one another’s burdens. Covid has pushed people apart and hospitality has been a casualty, but we need to reaffirm our need for one another – talking to myself here!
I’ve just started reading ‘The Heart of the Family,’ the third book in Elizabeth Goudge’s Damerosehay trilogy. The three books in the trilogy deal with the home, family relationships; moral dilemmas, and the choice between feelings/emotions and duty. They enlarge on some of the content in this chapter of For the Family’s Sake using a fictional story. I wrote about the second book in the series, Pilgrim’s Inn here.