Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Chair

Last fall I was visiting one of my all-time favorite places, The Salzmann Library at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, when I was greeted by a mass of chairs as I walked in the door. "What's up with the chairs?" I asked Mark, one of the library staff members, and was told that they were being put away in storage where nobody would probably ever see them again. I couldn't help but notice what nice condition they were in. "Too bad," I said. "We could use nice chairs like that in our house. My kids are forever stepping on the spindles and breaking them. It drives my husband nuts. I think that when he dies, he will have a bottle of glue in his hand as a testimony to all of the time he has spent gluing the chairs back together!"

The same thing could have been said about my own father. He was forever repairing chairs and then fussing about how recklessly we nine kids would sit in them, often rocking back on two legs, or not having them evenly balanced just right on the uneven kitchen floor so they wouldn't wobble. It must be the curse of fatherhood to worry about kitchen chairs!

As I was lost in those youthful memories, Mark took me by surprise when he asked me how many chairs I would like to take home with me, and then he helped me load up the back of my van. What fun it is to have part of my favorite place in my very own home! My family and I are now the proud owners of eight fine, used library chairs and we make very good use of them every night at the dinner table.

Or not.

I wonder, does every family with a majority of teenage boys have as much constant chaos in it as mine does? Dinner always includes loud and lively banter about the fights they witnessed at school, which teacher gives the least homework or the latest sports news, all mixed in with a healthy dose of teasing one another.

While dishes are assigned and everyone is busy clearing the table and heading off for homework or evening activities, there is sure to be some type of physical steam being aggressively released as the boys begin with good-natured slapping that often ends up in a physical wrestle of sorts. Tonight was no different as a classic scene of rough-housing ensued with one son teasing, the other punching back. But to our horror one son got carried away and picked up one of our precious library chairs in a classic WWF wrestling move and lifted it as if he were going to swing it at his brother. Dad effectively put an end to that nonsense.

All he had to say was "Hey! A priest sat in that chair!" and the fight was over with the chair once again gently placed at the kitchen table, and the two troublemakers doing dinner dishes as punishment for their crime. Such is the respect our family feels for the priesthood, that holy and venerable vocation, that an ordinary chair can become a sacred item simply because a priest had used it during his Seminary studies!

Finding the sacred in the ordinary-isn't it amazing that God reveals his presence in the simple things? In addition to chairs, I have gratefully found Him in--

~an unbuttoned coat on a March afternoon

~gentle words of understanding from a friend

~the shifting sands of the beach after the snow melts

~the gift of hearty bread from Sister Doris each week

~the North Star lighting the sky and guiding my life
~a note of thanks in the mail with the gift of icons enclosed
~using the gifts He has given me to work for His glory

~laughter at the dinner table after a long day

~working off the weight and the stress on the elliptical trainer

~lake so blue I could melt in it

Where do you find the sacred in your ordinary?


  1. First...yes...having two sons, 21 and 18, I can certainly relate : ) Not as much roughhousing now...more verbal teasing and the constant talk of sports.

    Second...I find God in folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen after dinner in silence, walking with the dog amongst nature.

  2. Did you know that some little girls are rough on furniture, too? Especially one that I know!

    I don't have any teenage sons but I've seen my nephew and his friends in action so I can relate a bit :)

    I can't believe you have holy chairs ;) We only have holey socks here.