I chose not to make 2013 New Year’s resolutions per se, though I did spend significant time reflecting on the year just ended and how to foster growth and change in the year ahead. For me it all boils down to how to allocate my time at a more fundamental level than simply pledging to exercise more or eat better can address. I frequently feel “too busy.” When my calendar is full of commitments (most of which I chose and enjoy), writing time diminishes, and I feel overwhelmed. When I have too few outside involvements, lethargy sets in. A resource that I return to over and over in my never-ending quest for the happy medium is a small booklet called Reflections on Simplicity by Sister of Loretto Elaine Prevallet. Reading it for the first time as part of a JustFaith curriculum in 1998, I chuckled in recognition of my unspoken ideal of simplicity:
“When I imagine my own life simple and uncomplicated, I picture my room and desk tidy, everything in its place. I myself am moving gracefully and graciously from one task to the next with precision, on schedule but with no strain or pressure. The schedule and the tasks are perfectly synchronized.” If only! As Prevallet notes, people and situations crop up, disrupting the best-laid plan. The key, she writes, is how we approach the day’s agenda. Rather than setting ourselves up as in control of everything, only to inevitably be disappointed, the task is to cultivate a deep inner awareness of God’s presence. With the truly simple way, “There is AN AGENDA, and I’m in tune with it, but it’s not my creation. I don’t need to worry about controlling; I don’t need to be anxious that it won’t all work out. I’m not in command and don’t need to be; I’m not in the foreground and not in the center. I’m only part of a large, moving scene,” Prevallet says.
So my intention for 2013 is to listen for inner wisdom as to my true agenda, thereby loosening my grip on controlling outcomes. Certainly this will be lifetime project but already I see that to move forward on such a path, more than anything I must re-orient my thought processes. Mentally, various projects compete for my time and energy, with lists of tasks scrolling through my brain like a news feed, and it’s exhausting. A helpful replacement image that arose is that of a garden that God and I tend together. A mental picture rather than lists of words by itself creates a shift, seeming to open up space, and a garden encompasses many facets. There is peace and beauty there, but also storms and weeds, just like daily living. The other day, feeling stressed out about action steps to be accomplished, I jotted in my journal:
Just be in the garden.
Tend what needs tending.
Work with God – God is there.
Think less. Tend more.
Nurture. Listen. Notice.
Top photo by Mary, bottom photo by AlyssssIA; both via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.