Finding Comfort in the Blank Spaces
I can’t do everything.
This is the dilemma I face most days. I take a look around at all that needs doing and think, “I can do that, and that, and that.” In the morning, I am very expansive. And quite undisciplined. That means that I see it all and I can do it all.
And then, I try to get started. This is where is gets tricky. Because where does one start? There is so much to do. And each thing begs me to do it, tells me I can do it, then teases me about not getting to it. By the end of the day I am beating myself up about my ineffectiveness because, “hey, you didn’t do what you could, what you said you would.”
This morning I am giving thanks for my blank pages. Be they journal or personal note or notebook paper or the margin of a book. Or, the “new post” page of my blog. (I guess even my Facebook page counts because the status box says, “What’s on your mind?”) All of them offer me space to put stuff down. To unload the intangible swimming in my brain and make it touchable. Malleable. Work-withable. The space allows me to clear up the clutter – not really by putting everything in its place but just by putting it in a place where I can recognize that it’s there. When I do that, we can have a civil conversation about whether that’s really meant for me to do:
- Or is it someone else’s to do?
On some days it just gives shape to the swirls and pretty pictures that dance and sing somewhere up in the gray matter. Once I look at them I can decide whether they’re worth keeping and where they go.
I can’t do everything; this I know. But each thing is made of a hundred things I can do. The key is getting started on the first thing. And the key to that is knowing the first thing when you see it. Call me ditsy or mystical or just plain confused, but I’m not sure God really cares where I begin. Just that I start. Inevitably, in the midst of what I am doing, I get a sense of what’s to come next.
Or an email dings or the phone rings and my Facebook pings, and then I am back to my cluttered self. That’s when I am especially grateful for the time I gave to downloading the clutter into my blank spaces. They can hold it for a while and they kindly tell me, “We’ll be here for you attend to once you’ve satisfied your distraction and are back in business.”
They’re really very kind and forgiving, these blank spaces. They know me so well. I’m a prodigal, I guess. Daily. How kind of God to know that blank spaces would be what calls me home and settles me when I get there.