Tag Archives: busyness

Sticking it to the To-Do List

Wildgänse im Flug, A skein of greylag geese.
Wildgänse im Flug, A skein of greylag geese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I read an Ann Voskamp quote saying that the remedy for anxiety is worship, or something to that effect. So true. To be full of wonder — wonderfull — how can the to-do list retain its power to freeze the veins? How can the But Gods crush and conquer?

There is a very real list of things unfinished, important, urgent even — a list of things blundered and things intimidating and things impossible — staring me in the face today. Standing at the back door with a cooling cup of coffee I can choose what to see. The porch in need of repair? The grill in need of cleaning? The fence sagging, neighbors’ house peeling, grass not growing? Or the tracery of branches across pale sky, geese in military formation (except for that one that can’t get it together), squirrel acrobatics? I can stare down the lists that march on my day or look past them to see the myriad opportunities for laughter.

Yesterday I told the Lord that what gets me down is choicelessness. The things I want to do I cannot do, the things I pine for are out of reach. If only I could make effectual choices, I could live with the consequences, I argued. (You can see I am happily delusional). Of course, it is harder to trust, to let someone else do the choosing, and yet isn’t that kind of the cornerstone of faith — that God chose me to dearly love? So I wiggle and squirm and finally relax and try to rest. OK, God. You choose. But still He graciously gives choice every day — choose light. Choose joy. Choose the lists with their ugly power, or brush past them and choose hope. Live wonderfull.

So today I praise. Two thousand years ago a young girl rounded with fear and trembling, hope and joy. The reasons to worry, the staredown of Impossible and Inadequate must have circled her tight and taunting. But in those months of waiting and uncertainty she threw back her head and hollered her choice: “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”

Impossible? Pah! Nothing is impossible with God.

Late late late

late late late
late late late

It started on Sunday. There we were, eating cinnamon buns, when a neighbor knocked on the door. “It occurred to me you probably don’t realize today is the time change,” she said. Daylight Savings? Uh-oh. We are a little unplugged up here on the mountain — no internet that doesn’t require a hike, no phones, no tv — and so, no, we didn’t realize. And now we were late. There was instant scurry, things flung every which way, a mad scramble for the bathroom, a dash out to the car, skidding laughing down the mountain on an icy road. I am not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. And now that we have sprung forward, I have a persistent feeling that I am lagging behind, missing something important. Even up here, cut off from civilization, the clock doesn’t agree with my internal time table. Is it seven or eight? I feel like Alice’s rabbit, late late late for a very important date. All around us, life is springing forward in disconcerting ways. There is a sledding hill across the street from our cabin, a long and twisting driveway. The hike up it is asthma-inducing; to stand at the top and look back you feel it’s quite impossible you made it up at all. Then there is the moment you sit on the devil-may-care device and feel the world beneath you begin to slip — and you’re off. Once you’re going, there’s no stopping (short of a crash); none of your shrieking makes a difference. Our kids are like that — teetering on the edge of a thrills-and-spills ride from innocent childhood into their own great adventures. I see the world beneath them start to slide, the sled is moving, none of my shrieking can stop it. They say busyness is the great enemy of marriages: hurry, worry, distraction from what really matters. The simple things, intentionality and care, are too hard to cultivate when you’re running 100 miles an hour. It’s not just marriage, it’s anything slow and painstaking — the spiritual life, the writing life, your very heart. Feed it rush and scramble, watch it wither. We are under the illusion that we control our calendar and own our possessions. Ha! We’re like Voldemort, divvying up our soul into precious pieces and thinking, spread out, there is more of me to go around. Be careful where you stash your life. But the clock cannot tell me how to live my minutes. I choose. And today I choose to savor, even as the world is whipping by. I won’t be rushed, won’t give in to worry, hurry-scurry. Today is a gift, and though tomorrow everything may change, today I have children I don’t have to nag, battles I can pick, a husband I can lavish with love, a view I can stop to see. All of my fears won’t add a minute to my life, so I show them the door. You go ahead and spring forward. I think today I’ll fall back.