I recently had the pleasure of reading Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams. When the author, Susan Branch, buys a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, she “inherits” all the possessions of the elderly woman who had lived in it for years until she moved to a nursing home and passed away. Susan sadly concludes that among all the woman’s earthly belongings, not a single “life softener” could be found. As Susan transforms the little house, adding such luxuries as a toaster and curtains, she begins to transform her life, too.
Susan’s term, “life softeners,” made me smile. Like fabric softener for our days, plump pillows and throws, lamplight, a tea kettle, fresh flowers, a cozy reading chair, candles, music . . . buffer the harshness of life! I’ve visited houses with no life softeners, and the word “home” just didn’t seem to fit.
When the chill of life threatens, “life-softeners” serve as windbreakers. Last fall, I was doing everything I could to usher in warmth. I lit candles, played French music, made food spiced with cinnamon, stood in front of the oven while it was hot . . . . . Lately, I’m gardening as often as possible. As my six-year-old discovered this week, “petals are so soft!” What a heavenly scent some of them bestow! Only a good, generous God would give us flowers. They speak of His love for us! For me, flowers are the ultimate “life softeners.”
Perhaps no other children’s book illustrates “life softeners” better than Let’s Go Home, by Cynthia Rylant. She leads the reader through each room of the house. With words that wrap around, offer refreshment, and soothe, she shows why a home is so special.
This picture book is the perfect pairing of text and art. If you haven’t experienced Wendy Anderson Halperin’s watercolor paintings, you will be delighted.
Both of these books will make you thankful for the “life softeners” God has blessed you with in whatever home you are currently abiding. There is good reason the word “home” is so often used as a synonym for heaven.