"I found great joy in keeping my own house. There was such sweetness in deciding where to place a chair, and in choosing what to plant in the garden. I relished creating my own order and hummed whenever I swept the floor or folded blankets. I spent hours arranging pots in the kitchen first in order of size, then according to color.
My house was a world of my own possession, a country in which I was ruler and citizen, where I chose and where I served."
- Dinah, The Red Tent
For years my friend Shalina begged me to read The Red Tent. I said I would but then got lost in three years worth of Outlander. Needless to say, when she handed me her copy this winter I finally felt excited, but it sat by my bed for weeks.
Once I dove in though, I was quickly hooked. I read and read and read and read, and at midnight, when the story took a dramatic turn, I texted her angrily, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHY am I reading this? Ah! No way! Oh my WORD!" I slammed the book down and called my grandma to take away my recommendation. I was livid.
Shalina replied with "just keep reading, friend." And after a week of bad attitude and stubbornness, I did pick it back up. And I'm just so glad I did.
I loved the way the author took a brief glimpse at Jacob's daughter from a passage in Genesis, and made an incredible story. I fell in love with Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah. And of course, Dinah. I felt as though the women of Bible times came to life before my eyes. They became real, tangible.
I enjoy historical fiction/non-fiction. I think it's because these kinds of books brings us as women to a time that feels so far away, and allows us a glimpse into life through their eyes. We see their struggles and passions and day to day, and it feels like there is just, a connection. There's a kindred feeling there.
The passage above from the end of The Red Tent is my absolute favorite. I immediately snapped a picture and sent it to Shalina. Dinah's words, so profound and yet so universal. I'd like to print and frame it for my own home.
It's what life is all about. Finding your place and allowing yourself to be immersed in it. For her it was her home, her garden, in cleaning her floors and organizing blankets.
For me it is the same. Or at least it's what I dream of. Losing the chaotic busy of life and getting down to the basics, the simple, the core of what I've always felt led to. For me it is exactly as she said. I felt inspired. I am inspired.
I re-instated my note of recommendation to my grandma, who has placed her name on the list for it at her library. I think it's a book my mom would have loved, too. Generations of women that can dive into The Red Tent, closing their eyes and actually feeling as though they are in, the tent themselves... relating, crying, laughing.
Good stuff. Such good stuff. Now. What to read next?