About Sleep on the Hearth
This website takes its name and inspiration from D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Pax,” which speaks of sleeping on the hearth of the living world…
All that matters is to be at one with the living God
To be a creature in the house of the God of Life.
Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace
and at one with the master of the house,
with the mistress,
at home, at home in the house of the living,
sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.
Sleeping on the hearth of the living world
yawning at home before the fire of life
feeling the presence of the living God
like a great reassurance
a deep calm in the heart
as of the master sitting at the board
in his own and greater being,
in the house of life.
What’s this poem all about for me?
You need to have a self before you can give yourself away. In that same way, maybe you need to come to a place of radical humility—knowing that you don’t actually control anything, that God (or whatever’s out there) has no need of you, that saving or changing others is beyond your control—before you can possess integrity and pure-heartedness in trying to act, to change things, to have meaning, to be productive.
That’s the place I hope to get to.
To me, God seems both close and far away, both involved and unconcerned, both present and absent, both everywhere and nowhere, both immanent and transcendent.
So maybe there’s value in understanding my place as simply that of a cat asleep on a chair in the house of the God of life. Enjoying the warmth of life but having no responsibility for the issues that concern my mistress in her greater being. Even building or tending the fire is beyond me! In that context, joy makes sense. Surrender and dependence make sense. Gratitude and relationship with the great one make sense.
And from that place of understanding my own ignorance and dependence, maybe I’m called to take limited responsibility, to have a bounded role, to act, to judge, to decide, to consider and analyze and try to understand, to show compassion, to change things through love.
But jumping ahead—jumping off the hearth and onto the mistress’s writing desk as if to help with the work before she has given me any job to do, before I understand that I was not created to produce but because of love—might be futile.
We weren’t created to produce, but because of love.
We came into existence because God wants us to exist, not because God is impressed with our super-powers and needs our help in running the universe.
* D. H. Lawrence wrote “Pax” in 1928 or 1929. It was published posthumously in 1932, in a collection called Last Poems. These days the poem is available in several collections, for example The Selected Poems of D. H. Lawrence.