Sunday, January 16, 2011

The "To Do List"

There is a definite tendency to over think and plan.  We beat the proverbial horse in everything we do having become expert list makers. We've become an accumulation of great ideas that seem to go no where. We spend months, years and decades planning for the perfect conditions rather then improving what we can and enjoy what has been given. We decide to just do it already.

Get up everyday and commit to doing something. Spend each weekend becoming a project warrior and spend some hours with your children teaching them the benefits of home improvements. If the kids don't like the smell of trash take it out and to the curb. Consider how even the garbage is made possible because of our plenty and then how blessed we are that it is hauled far away. Attention to detail and time each day devoted to improving your physical space will not go unrewarded.

Devaluing the smaller doable changes is just a way of being lazy and resistant to taking  charge. We condition ourselves to ignore and eventually not to see the misplaced items the chipping paint or the toothpaste in the sink. We must watch for this desensitization which is the same operation that kicks in and we fail to see the homeless the hungry. We must raise awareness of our surroundings and the conditions of our life and of course our soul. We see but do not perceive we hear but to not listen. We turn a blind eye and then we incrementally slowly close ourselves off from more and more of our corner of the world.

Saint Anthony the Great understood that even the monks and nuns who have dedicated themselves to prayer can not lead a life where prayer is the sole activity; there must be labor. I am always amazed by the popular misconception that many laity have that the monastics withdraw from the work of urban life to attend church and pray. Consider the work that these oasis' in the deserts require. Maintenance is a part of every life or it should be. 

There is "the doing" that we must get done regularily to move through our day obviously but then there are those activities which are basically brainless the cabinet that needs tightening, the pictures that need hanging, or the weeds that won't wait. Completing these tasks can be calming because of their simplicity. They are equally rewarding as we are reminded throughout our day of how we made that small space better. We no longer avoid the cabinet or the flower bed or the unfinished wall.

There has been the growing impetus in this society to reward avoidance where it is seen as a badge of honor and menial chores are seen as tasks others are hired to do.   By taking ownership of our space and what needs to be done we enjoy the fruits of our labor and move through the private space in our home and yard recreating order and serenity in a personal way.

It is true that in the deepest sense the inner reality creates the outer form but ignoring or dismissing the outer reality is like ignoring that we are a spiritual creature with a body. We can apply this concept of doing small tasks regularly to change more subtle aspects to our inner life also. A small daily prayer will change our life being courteous to our neighbors or the clerks where we shop will provide a more relational experience.

These small changes will create the momentum which will set the stage for bigger and better changes. We will not be entrusted with more if we fail to be good stewards of what we have been given. If we don't care for our stuff our little treasures our selves we can't hardly expect others to.  So cense your house everyday, bless your children and paint the porch.

So get up and just get it done. Change your attitude about chores don't resist doing them don't resent having to clean up and fix up. See it as your pleasure and a concrete way of thanking God for the abundance of your life.  Tending to your personal space is not work it should not be equated with some kind of enslavement our material work.  You are privileged to have the opportunity to create a clean beautiful space in which you live.  We must remember it is our home wherever it is.  It is where we relax and make ourselves at home with our families. 

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