Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dark and Depthless

Confession: I do not remember the last time I sat down to read. Oh, it was probably last week, but this is Tuesday for heaven's sake! That was ages ago! I have caught snatches here and there--on blogs, in Levenger, in Scripture, sifting through theology but never letting it seep in. So when I sit down with a moment's peace in which to write, I have nothing to say. I am a dried up well whose last glimmer of liquid has evaporated leaving only dark and depthlessness. It is so easy just to get by, running off of shear talent or energy can carry a strong headed person such of myself a good long way. But happens when joints start squeaking or muscles cramp up disabling that natural talent to do it one's self?

Yesterday I had the day off and went on a really long walk. I took my time and stopped a good bit along the way...for the sake of my knees and to stay hydrated. The first six miles were basically an avoidance of thinking. All I wanted to do was get as far away from people as possible. So, music up, back pack on, tennis shoes laced I set off to power walk my way away from life. Long about, oh, mile one and a half an elderly couple pulled up in their hunter Crystler mini-van stopping the traffic behind them to a 4 to 5 car halt. I saw their lips move and realized that they were talking to me and I should probably get rid of the head phones. I gave them their directions, they turned around, and I was bemoaning the fact that I had to actually interact with someone on this trip--and a mile and a half into it to boot! About mile four I begrudgingly went into a small town market to get a bottled Cheerwine and water and I am pretty sure I didn't say a word to the poor girl who took my money. Oh, wait, she did ask if I wanted "a bag for that", and I thought, "Are you crazy! Did you not just see my walk up to this joint all red, hot, and nasty without a car and wearing a back pack", but what came out was, "no thanks". Somewhere along mile 7 when the first of three people pulled over to ask if I needed a ride things got a little bit lighter, "No, thanks. I'm just walkin' to walk". That produced some strange looks. So that around mile 9.5 and 10 I was telling a little old lady and a little old man that their yard looked beautiful!

When you do any one thing--or even when there is a lack of any one vital thing--for any period of time, something has to give. Baby sitting some one else's children is not quite the same as raising your own. Eating one low carb burger means you are about as faithful an Adkins dieter as if someone else feigned being a vegetarian after drinking 32 oz. of carrot juice. Sitting in your average Sunday morning church service is not quite the same as participating in a four hour Orthodox Easter service. Fifteen or twenty minutes a day of quiet time tends to become avoidable or improperly repetitive until you shaken life up a bit with so long a walk that you find that the only thing left within site is you and your thoughts.

Life catches up with us. Some times it overwhelms us, some times it bores us. Maintenance is good. If you let a car run long enough on what it has got to keep it going at present, things will inevitably burn up and fall out. You have to put something in to get something out, but being the creative beings that we are we tend to not feel like using out creativity so what we do--or do not do--on a daily basis becomes trivial and trite. I think I have come to prefer life shaken, not stirred.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Doing Something Worth Doing

"If a thing is worth doing"...how do you define what is really worth doing? "If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly"...how can you define what is really worth doing enough for it to be worth doing badly? At the top of my list are those things that show instant accomplishment: mowing a lawn, washing dishes, making a bed. While these things are considered chores, there is something to be said for being able to quickly strike a task from your to-do list. But things like that leave little room much less time to be done badly. So, does that say something as to there worth?

I have heard the plea for Reformation as opposed to Revolution time and again--the quality and importance of a thing being worked out and perfected over time rather than over night. When one really tries to live in that fashion--to invest in ongoing accomplishments, to soak in continuing education, to strive for a vision that may not be achieved in ones own life time--that in and of itself is a process worth pursuing. It is stretching and maturing. And the change over time shines so much more evident a light on the permanence of the endeavor. It is in those long spent, toiling days in which the small mile-stones and the completed chores of instant gratification mean so much more. To everything there is a season and to all things there is a purpose. So the short term brings a seed of hope to the ongoing labors of the long term. But that is the beauty of things worth doing. Because we are called to invest, because that requires time, because time leaves plenty of room for error, that is why life has been punctuated by small graces. That is why things worth doing are worth doing badly.

"If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing badly."
G.K. Chesterton