Wednesday, June 28, 2017

“At Home in This Life” by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Do you think you might find God in your laundry soap? How about a worm farm? Or a broken foot? And then there’s that family-workday-in-the-backyard plan that has everyone but Dad inside after 10 minutes.

Guess where Jerusalem Jackson Greer found God?

All of the above.

In At Home in This Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams & Beautiful Surprises, Greer tells the story of her life – and ours – in the 21st century. You know what life it is – that frantic, crazy, multitasking, carpool-school-carpool-home-work frenzy that all of us, in one form or another, engage in. And while we’re waiting for the red light to change, we’re checking Facebook notifications and email.

For Greer, her husband Nathan, and their children, it took a house not selling (“But it was featured in Southern Living!”), the dream of owning a farm falling through, and Greer breaking her foot (doing too many things at once) to start a process of change.

The idea of the change was simple: life isn’t what you’re waiting for while things happen. Life is what happens, so why not live in those extended moments of life happening.

The idea is simple; the execution of the idea is not, as Greer found out. And thus At Home in This Life.

While aimed at women, this is a book for all of us. It’s not about slowing down, throwing out the TV, walking away from social media (although Greer tries that for a month). This is book about the reality of day-to-day living, and the reality of finding God in that daily-ness.

Jerusalem Jackson Greer
So the house doesn’t sell and the dream of the farm has to be postponed. Greer paints her walls, gets friends to help with sanding and repainting of window frames, and finds the beauty in both of those. She and her family rediscover what it means to keep the Sabbath, not in a rigid, legalistic way but in a loving and appreciative way. They discover what hospitality means, and what it means to work in a soup kitchen. Her confession about cooking (she’s not that good at it and she doesn’t follow recipes) opens up a new level of communication with her husband (who is good at it). And her chapter on laundry soap (inspired by having a mother who’s the world’s expert on homemade laundry soap) is both funny and rather profound.

Greer is a speaker, writer, workshop leader, and lay minister living in central Arkansas (and, yes, she does finally make it to the farm; I suspect that’s another book). She’s previously published A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together (2013) and A Faith-Made Year (2015).

If you want to be moved, entertained, stimulated, and impressed with what is possible to find in the daily-ness of life, At Home in This Life is a good place to start.

Photograph by Linnaea Mallette via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

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