Friday, January 20, 2006

Simple Tasks which Make for Peace, Part 2

When I wrote last night that I would try to make another entry here in the morning, I wasn't expecting it to be this early! I think it's official--we're a hockey family.

Last night D was at the new rink where he recently became a member. After asking around a bit, he found out that he is allowed to bring E (our 7-year old) with him to skate without having to pay more for him. The rink is only open for free skating between 5:30 and 4:00, though, Monday--Friday. So this doesn't leave much room for E to get there after school.

Now E was asleep already when D got back last night. And D & I batted around the idea of waking E up super-early this morning and D taking him to the rink as a surprise. But after talking about it for awhile, D decided it would be better to tell E about it and have him anticipate the event, rather than surprise him with it at 5:30 a.m.

At 5:15 this morning, however, we heard a little rap on our bedroom door. E had awakened from a bad dream and wanted someone to tuck him back in. D got out of bed and started into the hallway, when he poked his head back into the room and said, "It's 5:15! Maybe we should go!"

Sure enough, about five minutes later, there was a great bustle of excitement. E was putting on his hockey jersey! Within about a half-an-hour they were heading out the door to go skating!

It was such a delight to see both my 'boys' getting their gear together, conspiring, eyes dancing. Now the sun still hasn't come up here, and they've already been gone for an hour. Beautiful.

So, it's been quite a week for me. I really am getting excited to start up the semester again. And this excitement has translated into a great sense of focus. I've made progress on my comps (a bit), done some good prep work for the Intro to Worship course, and made some excellent progress on the Living the Questions work for church.

Two weeks ago today, I wrote about simple things, from the quotes by Mother Teresa ('Be faithful in the small things, for this is where your strength lies') and Julian of Norwich. I ended my entry with these words: "And turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace. This is the phrase that is staying with me. Not grand things. Not weighty things. Simple tasks. That is what my day ahead shall be.'

This phrase, "turn my life to simple tasks which make for peace," has stayed with me these past two weeks. And, because I've written in the past about feeling life out of balance, I wanted to celebrate that in these days, I have felt life in balance again.

I have often wondered about the simple tasks that make a day and how they relate to the larger things of the world. After September 11th, 2001, I had to speak at my seminary as the student body president. I spoke about the way life is lived on the small scale--and that the events we had faced were so very much larger than where it's possible to live: the scale was grotesque, life cannot be sustained there. After the tsunami, I remember feeling the same way. How to take in the immensity of death? I went out and swept the sidewalk.

It is a razor's edge, I think. Small tasks, small scale can easily become quiescence. Sweeping the sidewalk does nothing. Though it was a way of grieving, of praying with my whole body, of making right my five squares of pavement in front of our apartment. It made no difference, except it made for peace. My peace is not the world's peace. Although, it is. Where is the line drawn between the world and me?

Small scale can be ignorance. Can be denial. Can be isolationist. Small scale can be a way of making for peace. Can be world affirming. Might be the only viable way of being. Small scale may simply be human scale. And when we move into what is larger than that, we take in too much. We make ourselves as gods. It is a form of concupiscence.

Now the sun is up.

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