catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 10 :: 2012.05.11 — 2012.05.24


Refurbished faith

My mother’s dresser sits in my bedroom, wide and low against the wall, made taller by a long mirror nailed to its back. When I was little, Mom’s dresser was a thing of mystery: it held her underwear, bras, silky fabric, childhood treasures and jewelry. Mom draped her necklaces over the corners of the mirror, laid her earrings next to the jewelry box on top of the dark wood.

Mom has since moved on to a more beautiful, golden oak dresser with a jewelry tree above it to hold her necklaces. Her old dresser went first to my brother, and then to me shortly after I married my husband and we bought our house. For me the dresser carries with it the weight of being married and a homeowner: an adult.

When we moved the dresser into our house, I realized it used to look different. Right now the dresser holds an oak top, an oak baseboard and country blue drawers. Under the baseboard, however, four slender, dark brown legs hide from view. They’re from the original design.

Apparently, my grandparents owned the dresser before my parents. My grandmother picked it out at a furniture store in the 1960s. When they didn’t want it anymore, they gave it to my parents, who refurbished it to make it fit with their home decor, which could have been featured in Country Home Magazine. Mom says that after they refinished it, the dresser felt more like it belonged to them instead of a hand-me-down.

Now it looks like a country home dresser in the middle of the twenty-first century. Dad says we should paint it black and put new hardware on it. He’s right, of course. The blue looks funny with our green and purple walls, and the white knobs are loose or falling off. My underwear drawer opens by pulling on a screw.

But it’s been almost two years now, and it’s still blue. I wonder if I’m lazy or just sentimental. There’s something about the country blue color that reminds me of home, of safety, of being in my parents’ bedroom as a child. Painting the drawers will dress it up, make it contemporary and help it fit in with the rest of our decor (modern country in the city).

Most of our furniture is hand-me-down from my family: our nightstands, bed, tables, hutch and a pair of knock-off Herman Miller chairs that are as old as I am. When I look around at the heritage in my house, I wonder what else we received from my family that is intangible: their model of a marriage, their taste in evening beverages, their love of a welcoming home, their faith.

Like Timothy of the New Testament, I received my faith from my parents and my grandparents. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve had to make it mine. I didn’t stay in their conservative denomination, the city they raised me in or even some of their doctrine. It’s still faith in the same God, the same Jesus and the same basic structure, but it looks different in practice. Probably my parents could say the same about their faith and their parents’ faith.

Maybe it’s time for me to claim both heritage and change — take the dresser out back, paint it black, give it new handles, and use it for its basic structure: storing my underwear, holding my jewelry and keeping me organized.

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