The driveway is covered with ice as I skate along it to roll out the trash bin. I have my hood pulled up over my head against the cold rain that is falling. My rubber soled shoes have just enough traction. There is a fascinating compression of water under the surface layer of ice that reminds me of a time snow shoeing when I walked across a frozen creek, watching the water flow beneath. Knowing that asphalt lies at bottom here gives me a bit more confidence.
Having parallel parked the bin in the slush distributed by a few passing cars, I take off a glove to extract the two letters meant for the mailbox that I have tucked under my sweatshirt against the patter of rain. The box is frozen shut with a night’s worth’s of freezing. There will be no mailbox access.
Back I go, letters in hand, sliding and crunching and swishing along. I stoop to collect the paper and dedicate my focus to my feet and my balance. My hood and the not yet daylight cover me in darkness, but for the two dim lights affixed next to the garage. I feel the patter on my back and hear the rain spitting on the drive.
Bop. An unseen hand taps me on the head. I peer out from under the side of my hood. It’s a low hanging branch from our crepe myrtle, bent under the weight of the icy accumulation. It’s fingers coated in a shimmering glow, almost as if it is a divine hand. I am stopped. Not angered or injured, just amused and bedazzled. Now, by the whole tree that is covered in a see-through negligee.
Must get a photo, of course, because this must be shared!
I re-emerge, camera in hand, to record the moment and snap a view of branch and tree. But, look at that. Just beyond, are the angels on the lawn, happily announcing the coming King on their snowy hillside. Our neighbor’s lantern even gives them a divine glow.
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.