The Art of Simple Joy

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in a series of letters from Screwtape to his nephew on one of the ways to lure a Christian away from his faith:

How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet? And that the sort of pleasure which a book and the walk gave him was the most dangerous of all? That it would peel off from his sensibility the kind of crust you have been forming on it, and make him feel that he was coming home, recovering himself?
~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

When my curious little band of characters and I moved to Northwest Arkansas last year, we chose a house almost solely for a view of the river past the backyard. We pushed our farm kitchen table to snuggle right up close to an upper level window-wall so that we might take our meals while drinking in the crowded hundred-year oaks leaning over the river’s bank like a gang of mamas protecting the herd’s young.
Up closer near the window, there’s a sexy redbud I can’t seem keep my eyes off of that changes her outfits to match all the days in every season. We even keep a pair of binoculars in the windowsill for spying on the egrets fishing or figuring the mystery of where the hummingbirds go to rest at night. Our faces instinctively incline towards that lush view of landscape down the back wall of our home and we soak it in every day.
Every new house comes with a To Do and my boy had it on his to have our crusty age-filmed windows spic-and-span washed and dried since we came to make this our own place.
This felt frivolous as paying for air and I put him off of it for almost a year claiming we didn’t need it or that maybe I wanted to do it at some point, did he ever think of that? That’s not even near what he thought and so the week following Thanksgiving, I received a text letting me know The Squeegee Squad would be by in twenty minutes.
True to the clock, enough boys showed up to make a decent circus routine and I grudgingly let them in.
One narrow-pointed look at their squeegees and very tall ladders let them know I could’ve handled all the windows, even that tiny circle one on the roof, if I wanted to.
I piddled outside and I stayed out of their way and after a couple of hours they left for the next circus show. Because I can be a lady, I waited politely for them to get to the mailbox before snapping on my white gloves and headed straight to the kitchen.
I nearly fainted dead away.
I had zero expectations except for maybe the kid prints on the back door disappearing for fifteen minutes. Glass is for looking through and we were seeing things just fine.
But this new perspective felt like vague shimmery shadows finally cutting in to a sharp cellular focus.
It was that different.
I wondered that we had grown accustomed to the filmy view we had acquired.
I don’t know that I ever would have washed those windows, and surely I would’ve carried on life in a fine way, but I’ll just wallow in the warm grace that my man sees a different way than me and never fails to show me better.

*******

A long, luxurious, pajama-clad period of sickness following Christmas break gives one time to contemplate the butter collecting on her body and also the clutter in her heart.
As always, I take to the nearest pen and any scrap of paper.
My soul of late pines for the simple and there is little less complicated than a list of More and Less scratched out on the back of a second grader’s old math homework.
My Less included obligatory anythings and phones and yelling.
The More side read as if written by an uncomplicated child and I began to consider my windows needed cleaning.
Things that blow my hair back a little can smack of joy but I consider all the ways I tie strings to good things. Because I am weak and made bent for pleasure, I often exchange the better view for something more immediate or mere comfort or even trading down sometimes for an updated status. I can still get the wind in my hair a little but it feels more like biting into a cheap chocolate bunny, hollow and waxy. A simple and keen pleasure doesn’t need my kind of polish: just a tiny, good moment to breathe its own breath.
The view was cutting in to sharp-celled focus.
I consider the More and the crust begins to fall away: bike rides and holding hands and games on the floor and bonfires and eating under the twinkle lights with friends out back and late-night giggles and home-grown fruit and sun-warmed naps.
And it feels like stepping onto my own warm lit porch again after a long trip gone.

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above… James 1:17

2 COMMENTS

  1. SB | 10th Jan 17

    Clean windows. It’s a real thing. The “More” list is something that breathes life into our family. You keep that a priority and it means so much to the rest of us. You are that “More” for me. I need more time with you and look forward to it. SB

    • Melissa Blair | 17th Jan 17

      Thank you for teaching me that clean windows are important: you know I’m okay with a mess 🙂 And commenting on your wife’s poor blog. You love her well.

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