This post is part of our new series on making meaningful homes, following G.K. Chesterton’s advice: “It is the main earthly business of a human being to make his home, and the immediate surroundings of his home, as symbolic and significant to his own imagination as he can.” If you’d like to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your guest post! Thanks to Amy Rogers Hays for her contribution and be on the lookout for more “windows into meaningful homes” as we continue this series.
Above our kitchen table on a 45 inch Mosslanda Ikea picture ledge sits our version of a little oratory. We have very small children (3 and 11 months) and a very small house (728 sq. ft). Our kitchen table, a handmade counter height butcher block table, is both kitchen prep space and our only eating space in our 9 x 12 kitchen.
We have icons scattered across the house, in a cube in our 25 square Ikea Kallax bookcase in our living room, in bedrooms, and above desks in the basement.
But for the kitchen space it’s primarily beautiful children’s books that we read at meal times: The Loyola Book of Saints, The Jesus Storybook Bible & Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing Devotional, for Easter Brian Wildsmith’s beautiful goldtone The Easter Story, Danielle Hitchen and Jessica Blanchard’s Baby Believer Board books, and a book of table blessings.
During Lent we had an NT Wright Lenten devotional, a purple marker paper-chain calendar, and a silk purple drape for our Bethlehem olive wood cross. During the summer, when my husband isn’t teaching middle school social studies, we have Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours out to read over a leisurely breakfast and occasionally press summer flowers in. During Epiphany we had the icon of the Wedding at Cana (a wedding gift from Orthodox friends). Our candles sit on the actual kitchen table (and Advent wreath during December), because I think it might be a fire hazard on the actual shelf underneath the cabinets. The shelf sits about 9 inches above our table, and it works really well to lean big library books on to read to our toddler as we coax him to eat bits.
For a long time I thought that having such a small house and such small children meant that we couldn’t have a sweet little altar space to put our crosses and icons and prayer books, but having it at the kitchen table has ended up being so great. It truly is the heart of our home, where we gather at least 3 times a day to eat and it makes it easy to read about the saint of the day, or a devotional, or contemplate a beautiful image. Honestly, where I do most of my actual praying is from the Mission St. Clare on my phone while nursing, but we’ve come to really love our little kitchen table shelf.
Amy Rogers Hays lives in Milwaukee with her husband Evan and their two kids Jackson (3) and Lily (1). Amy loves trees, coffee, and fairy tales. She writes at AmyRogersHays.com about making space for creativity and filling days with long walks, good food, morning prayers, and the reading and writing of good books. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.