I am thinking these days about living less in my head and more near the ground, more humbly interested in the small tasks of life. I have a bad habit of being anywhere mentally but where I physically am. Adam was named "of the earth" and Eve, "life", and it's good to recall these names because the first humans weren't called "cerebral" and "dreamy", which is how I am tempted to walk through a day.
The daily grind can either chew one up and spit one out or helpfully tether one to reality.
What makes the difference, I wonder?
For me it certainly is both of those and also an emphasis on staying inside the actual moment, not playing out the list of things to do next.
I so enjoy life when I stop fretting about the next decade and just live the next few hours.
In Willa Cather's novel "Death Comes for the Archbishop" there is a line that I love. It's New Mexico in the 1860's, and two priests contemplate the garden they have grown from seeds, water, sunshine, and toil. It's on the edge of the desert, remote and wild to these Europeans. It's been six years and now they have an orchard, a kitchen garden, and in July hundreds of lotus blossoms. It's beautiful and helpful to their small town. Neighbors have taken cuttings and have their own fruit trees producing juicy and refreshing fruit.
The line that resounds in my ears is "they had boldly planned for the future" meaning that they had no idea how long their mission or their lives, would last, but they planted a garden anyway.
Looking backwards historically, it's been easy for me to judge people that froze in fear or confusion during times of upheaval. I think they were foolish or cowardly. And yet, at this moment in history, as I doubt whether life will return to what I knew before 2020, I see that it takes courage to boldly plan for the future. That courage is faith-filled, superhuman, and tied to the quotidian. The priests planned out and worked inside of a garden on the edge of a massive desert. They did not simply live in their heads and wonder what to do.
It takes hope to wash your dishes each day, and to make a menu for the week, to plan time with friends, to read books to your children, to take a hike in the fresh snow. It's building something that takes courage. These things build, they really do.
And thankfully, mysteriously, this building also ties me down to the earth. I enjoy life more when I am not floating but calmly placing my feet on green grass, river rock, or white snow. The daily chores, the weekly tasks can set me free to live deeply.
I've been training to run a half marathon and it is intimidating me. I have been realizing that all I can do is work my training assignment for this day. And then the next day. And then the day after that. The race may be cancelled or I may break my foot but for this moment, I take my training plan, put it into my week's schedule, and keep moving forward.
Boldly planning for the future, one run at a time. I love how running teaches me about life. I see that it's the same when I boldly make friends, boldly serve my family in the mundane, boldly make my town a better place to live - I am building for whatever is the half-marathon equivalent of life. And it's slow.
What comes to mind when you read this? Does boldly planning excite you? Exhaust you? Bring up other thoughts? Hopelessness and despair ask, "Why bother?" Faith says, "It matters." Build boldly, friend. In your little corner of this giant globe, build boldly.