Family life

The Hearth in the Home


Will you indulge me to repost some of my “way back yonder” blog posts on Thursday’s? I’ll pick through some of my favorites and find things that I think will be relevant to my readers today. Let’s start with one that focuses on one of my favorite topics: Home.

In yesterday’s patriotic service at our church I participated by reading a monologue as it would be written by the Statue of Liberty. An ending phrase has gone over and over in my mind as I’ve pondered its meaning in my country and my own heart as well. It read…

 “O people, restore me to where I can once again see a land of beautiful homes – A land where homes are never separated – a land where home is viewed more by what is on the inside than what is on the outside – a home where these three gifts will always be: the hearth, the flag, and the place of prayer.”

What does it mean to you that you keep alive the gift of the hearth? Wikepdia says that a hearth is “a brick– or stone-lined fireplace or oven used for cooking and/or heating. Because of its nature, in historic times the hearth was considered an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature: its Latin name is focus.[1]This concept has been generalized to refer to a home place or household, as in the terms “hearth and home” and “keep the home fires burning.” In fireplace design, the hearth is often considered the visible elements of the fireplace, with emphasis upon the floor level extension of masonry associated with the fireplace mantel.

Following this definition I see the hearth as a symbol of the warmth of a family inside a home. It’s not the kind of warmth a real hearth would have brought, but the kind of that comes from being together, spending time talking, sharing in the lives of those that live there with us. I believe this can only be done by the diligence that it took to keep the fire burning in those old- time fireplaces.

One integral part of family warmth is mealtime. I don’t mean the hurry-up and eat and get out of here kind of meal. This is the mealtime where the meal is lingered over, empty plates are pushed back and conversation happens. We have often read a book together after our supper meal. Having Bible reading or devotions works well at this time of day when everyone is gathered together.

The hearth’s warmth can be spread outside to the front porch or the deck. Last weekend we enjoyed having company and spent Friday and Saturday evenings out on the deck talking, sharing dessert and coffee, and also listening to stringed instruments being played and hymns being sung. I could just feel those “home fires burning” during those sweet times of fellowship.

Often the piano in the living room has served as our “hearth.” Because our girls play we have the blessing of being able to gather ’round it and sing together. Game boards have also served in bringing us together in laughter and closeness as games were played with stiff competition and fun.

Each family may interpret the “hearth” in a different way. The important thing is that we do all we can, with the Lord’s strength to keep it burning, and that we each understand that the hearth in the home truly is a gift.

Are you making the most of the gift of your hearth?  How are you accomplishing that?  Ask the Lord to give you ideas, if that gift isn’t being maximized!  

From my hearth,