I fill my days rushing around, worshiping the gods of efficiency and productivity. I thrive off of checking the boxes on my to-do list and I plan my day down the hour. I value a clean house and an empty counter.
So when the morning comes with the child hot with fever, my whole day feels ruined and I spend the next hours attempting to work and watch kids, aware that any attempt to juggle kids, my computer, and all the germs spreading is impossible.
The next morning, while the house still sits quiet and my coffee still sits waiting to be consumed, I find time to wander back through the week’s lectionary passages to listen for the Voice that draws forth the lasting things from the pages of notes.
I hear Numbers 21:8-9’s call to hold up that which is threatening to undo me and face it in pure trust of the One who is always bringing life-from-death so that the courageous can face.
I hear Psalm 107’s call to give thanks to the God who comes in real and tangible ways so that the hungry can live.
I hear Ephesians 2:1-10’s call to recognize the life-less patterns of a do-it-yourself culture and instead lean into the God rich in mercy and immeasurable in kindness so that the grateful can thrive.
I hear John 3:11-21’s call to see the One who comes so that we might find long-standing and steadfast Life and no longer fear the death that comes from self-embraced darkness so that the beloved can bow down.
And then almost on cue, my morning quiet time is interrupted with fear of something crawling around in my attic. And I set my journal down to call my mother for advice and then finally to make the call into the plumber for the problem we discovered the night before.
“Mommy” comes in repeats from the crib and then, in harmony, the same emerges from the big boy bed. A chorus of those who need me breaks out across the house.
I am a follower of Christ who muddles my way through the daily tasks of the day, wearing my Lenten cross over the sweats that a sick-day-at-home demand.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
– Mary Oliver, Praying
Mary Oliver combed the woods of Provincetown and sat in silence to watch creatures and wonders in their natural state. I have no time to wander alone or to sit in silence. And yet, I spend plenty of time time watching creatures and wonders in their natural state… in the form of two little bodies wiggling around this house of ours. So perhaps, for me, it doesn’t have to be a day full of silence and reflection.
It could be the sight of the youngest peeling the yogurt lid off and licking it while sitting on the kitchen floor.
It could be the feel of washing my oldest’s hands and wondering when they got so big and grown-up.
It could be the comfort of talking through the day’s joys and challenges with the one who has listened for twelve-years-and-counting.
It could be the warmth felt in the company of those who know me and yet love me still.
It could be the smell of plumbers and critter-ridders that still hang in the air and remind me of the luxury in which I live where a problem can be fixed within hours.
It could be the knowledge that the medicine that now sits in the corner is already healing the illness that comes inevitably from living in community.
It could be the refrigerator that holds my “mise en place” set already for dinner that awaits transformation in the skillet and onto the plate.
It could be the knowledge that there are mothers of two little boys all around the world that lack access to home-service-providers, refrigeration, and easy access to medication.
So I patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate. Despite all the voices that tell me so, perhaps this life is not a contest but indeed a doorway.
Perhaps the courageous can face, the hungry can live, the grateful can thrive, the beloved can bow down… even amidst this altar of dishes piled in the sink, toys scattered across the floor, and continuous Netflix streaming during naptime.
In this doorway in the heart of St. Matthews, I pause and give thanks.