Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Week, Another Five Hundred Fifty Four Things to Do

It is a glorious morning here in Your Nation's Capitol. At 10 a.m., the temp here is a blissful 63F, the sky is an endless blue, leaves are drifting down. I took a lovely walk - 45 minutes of peace and relative quiet, listening to Morning Prayer on the iPod, then listening to the new Dan Brown audiobook. I do hope that whatever spiritual sustenance I got from MP wasn't flushed by listening to trashy Freemason conspiracy talk.

I've already done three things on the to-do list, and have something of a plan for the other things. Well, sort of a plan, because every minute that passes brings me several emails or messages that add to the list.

I could take the easy way out and not even make a list and just deal with things as they come at me, but that would make me crazy as I forgot things or worried about forgetting things or struggled to remember things.

So it's all about the list.

Secretly, I like the list, because crossing things off it feels so darned good. The list and I have a co-dependent relationship: it expects me to tend to it, and I expect to fuss over it, add things, cross things off, re-prioritize. Someone I know just kept one list in one of those black marbled-cover composition books. One running list, forever. Adding, crossing off, modifying. PH makes a list for the week, hand-written, blocked off by day. I tried to use my Palm for this, but discovered I liked the discipline of writing a list in the morning (or sometimes the night before) for that day. A day at a time, that's really all I can manage. I do use the Palm for longer-term regularly scheduled tasks (like Ember Day letters) but each day is too much of a moving target to type in all the stuff.

The list for the day:

  • initial reading of the lections for this Sunday (I have actually already read them once, but now will read more closely) in anticipation of where I might go with the sermon

  • thinking about the list (a sub-list) of things I want to discuss with my Senior Warden

  • getting a copy of +Gene Robinson's Fourfold Blessing out to the parish, since so many loved it when I used it yesterday

  • thinking about a series of Advent meditations for home devotions

  • planning the baptismal prep sessions for the three souls who will be baptized on 11/1

  • a trip to the library to pick up a book on hold, return the overdue books, and pay the inevitable fine

  • a trip to the Cokesbury bookstore for something I want rather than need (and this is an expendable item on the list)

  • setting up three appointments for pastoral care meetings

  • taking Spewky and Mia to the vet for their annual visit.

This last item will be a team effort. Wrangling two uncooperative cats is beyond my powers, so PH will be helping. Thank goodness he's got a break in the afternoon and can do this!

The Saab appears to be on the fritz. I asked PH to drive it today, so he can feel what it's doing and we can discern whether it will cost us an arm and a leg and a firstborn child to fix, or simply a hand or a foot ("If your hand offends you, cut it off..."). I know that it will cost no less than $750 because every time we take it to King Richard and the Swedish car specialists it never costs less than $750, and sometimes more. The issue is how much more. Given that it is now nine years old, there is a tiny piece of me that would like to replace it, but now is not the time. So one of the items that I face this week may be bringing it to Richard's castle of car repair for diagnosis, treatment, and debt-incurrence.

PH talks about the pile of books that he would love to read but may never get to as the eschatological reading list. I've got one of those, but I think I've also got an eschatological to-do list...the things I'd like to do (organizing my yarn stash, transferring all my old vinyl records to digital format, visiting Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt and Israel, losing forty pounds) but will probably never get to. Rationally, I know I'll never get it all done. Irrationally, I keep trying and frustrating myself and everyone around me with my stubbornness about it all. It never gets completely done, and at the end of every day I have to give up on that list, sometimes with relief and sometimes with annoyance at myself or other circumstances that have conspired against its completion.

And so the prayer for each night is the one we find in the New Zealand Prayer Book:

Lord,it is night.

The night is for stillness.

Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

what has not been done has not been done;

let it be.

I have to let it be.

In a way, the beauty of the daily to-do list is that it circumscribes my work into the finite, the measurable, the things that are necessary and not so necessary. These quotidian acts give me an opportunity to serve God through each other in the mundane; God's glory shines through, I hope, in how I do them. At least for this day, and this list, I hope and pray.

1 comment:

Rev Dr Mom said...

Would you post +Gene's blessing, or email it to me? TIA!

I'm not a list person usually, but at my clergy coach's urging I'm making lists on my iPhone. We'll see if the habit catches on!