I enjoyed Alan Jacob’s recent thoughts on focal practices.
A lot of thought went into our hearth when we moved into our home. It’s a 1970s house and was a relic of the time period when we moved in. We have a shallow, wide chimney breast which, at the time, had a gas fire that was not in the center of the chimney breast. It bothered me, plus I didn’t want a gas fire (log burners still being all the rage). So we took it out and boarded it up.
For a time we had a vintage stereogram along the chimney breast, but it’s since been replaced with our piano and a picture rail to give the effect of a mantle. We still don’t have a picture for it.
It’s an aspirational part of the house. I hope that our familial focal practices will grow to include playing music together and singing. I also hope it will include looking at a lovely, thought provoking piece of art (you know, once we find one). We aren’t there yet, but by fixing them there, right where the hearth would be, I feel like we’ve also fixed some ideals and values.
I think, too, that it has had an impact. The kids do head to the piano, often multiple times a day. Sometimes they practice for their lessons. A lot of time they just mess about. But it catches their attention, it is fun, it is there for them. Gradually, I think, we will get to a similar point as our next door neighbors, whose grown up sons both play. When they are home, we usually hear hymns through our shared wall. It’s a blessing.