It takes a lot of energy to maintain a barricade. You’ve got to keep reinforcing the mortar, keep patching the holes, keep building it higher and deeper and wider. Maybe if you camouflage it with some greenery and shrubs, people won’t notice it and they’ll stop trying to get through it. Maybe they’ll leave you alone. Ah, how good a respite would be from the constant maintenance of the wall.
I do have a choice. I could let them in. That would be so much easier, just to let them have their way. Just to say yes and have it over with. Let them trample over the rubble I have been maintaining for, let’s see, how long now?
There’s another option. I could open the door and invite them in for some civil conversation. Oh, my heart races in fear at the thought of that. Admit them, engage them in conversation, get to know them and them, me. Listen and speak. Consider the pro’s and con’s. Arrive at some conclusion.
At the end, perhaps we would go our separate ways. Or perhaps we would clean up the rubble together. Either way, wall maintenance would no longer be needed. Just think what I could do with the energy I’m no longer expending on it!
Indecision, procrastination, ‘further study.’ Unfinished stories, interrupted songs, incomplete sentences. These have their price. It’s not just the holding off what’s on the outside, it’s the preventing expression of what’s on the inside that costs so much. Attack and retreat both have their costs, but holding the line may be the most devious of all. It saps and spoils.
What if we invited that which waits in to meet the one who is dying to have voice and bypassed the wall maintenance all together?
I don’t neglect on purpose. It’s an accident. I don’t pay attention. Let it slide. Save it for a rainy day. Wait until I have big block of time. Just don’t notice it anymore.
The last may be the worst. Something small and insignificant doesn’t demand my attention so I set is aside until it blends in with the rest of the scenery. And goes unnoticed. Until I notice it. And it’s past due. Expired. Spoiled. Outgrown. Dust-covered. Obsolete. Or just so decrepit that its unusable.
Finally got around to three things yesterday that I had been neglecting. Oh, not intentionally. They were on my to-do list. Marked for execution, at some point. I just hadn’t gotten around to them. And when I did, they were all past due. There may be financial penalties on two of them. One was past deadline. Opportunity lost.
I wonder how fast the cost of negligence is accruing in my life. Not just in financial penalties and items tossed but in opportunities missed. That’s where God’s got my attention. And not in a “yes, you should lament this, shame on you” kind of way but a “dear one, please attend to the details” voice.
God really is exceedingly patient with me. I mean, I discovered I have a winter sweater from LAST January awaiting hand washing in my laundry room. Been what, 10 months? But this is the least of His worries, I imagine. Perhaps he laughs among Himself and says, “Oh that Wendy, she does have laundry issues.”
No, today we’re talking about maintenance issues. Things that can wait, but shouldn’t wait forever. Because things gather: the inbox fills, the bills mount, the dust gathers, the piles build. Isn’t it interesting how inanimate objects are active by accident?
I suspect it’s entropy. That force in the universe that tends things toward disorder and disarray unless we do something to stop it. The things I see seem harmless enough. But what about the things I don’t see? Things like:
- boundaries that erode
- relationships that grow cold
- ideas left to die
- energy that dissipates
These things deserve attention. At the very least, maintenance. A tap or a check-in or a re-visiting every now and then, just to be sure they’re intact. Perhaps some need a bit more care and tending. A bit of patching or bolstering. Some clean up or mending.
Perhaps the very act of attention may regenerate them. A little sorting or clean up may be just what is needed for me to see the nugget underneath. The seed waiting for me to sow it. A bit of water and some fertilizer and who knows what might grow?
My antagonist always seems to be busyness. That sense of needing to do what presents itself for doing and clamors for the most attention. The other things, the ones underneath, are quieter, calmer, willing to wait. If they have a voice it is still and small.
And I wonder if the Sabbath wasn’t created for such as these. A day of rest, not a ‘put your feet up and let the day serve you’ kind of rest but a restorative rest. A day to attend to the boundaries and things on the fringes. A time to address those things we have left behind or set aside. To consider what stays and what goes. To put things where they belong.
Really, it’s childish to leave our things all scattered about. Didn’t our Father teach us to take care of the things he’s given us? To leave our childish ways behind?
- Step 1. Notice the messes.
- Step 2. Schedule regular cleaning.
- Step 3. Enjoy the satisfying feeling of order.
- Step 4. Look for life there and give thanks.