It was 9pm.
Location: The basement, North Princeton Circle, Lynchburg, Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains.
Curtains fluttered at the raw emotions sprawling in the room.
Blue carpet suffered underneath. White paint cracked in anticipation.
Our two fluffy, lop-eared rabbits
“But Mommmm! You don’t understand! This is just what I do! This is the system; this is just how it is!”
My little eight-year-old body quivered in righteous indignation. Feet stamped, nerves pulled taut. Paperbacks brandished angrily through the air, and the clash continued…
Ultimately, I must have won out–or rather–perhaps my mother just knew which battles to choose.
I slept in the basement for a spell, creating my blanket nest with care, thumbing my novels until the green digital dashes on the VCR read 10:30pm. It was a beautiful system, an amazing system, a system that worked. Until, you know, it didn’t.
I still recall that fateful night when, peeling apart the layers of my nest, I noted with horror the rabbit pellets and fur that had worked their way into the knitted Afghan blankets, where I had been sleeping. No, not just sleeping as happenstance–where I had been DEMANDING, INSISTING I sleep, as a matter of Justice, God, and Right.
Needless to say, the following night found me once more tucked away in my proper bed, at a proper hour, Evil Twin Sister snoring away.
Twenty years later, I still extract much meaning from this simple vignette:
- Invoking “Right” and “Justice” in your arguments doesn’t actually mean they’re on your side.
- Things that may seem good–like reading until 10:30 (Extra education! Literacy! Worldly perspective!)–might not be appropriate for every situation (like young children who need their rest).
- My stubbornness (and clinging to the comfort of routine) can blind me to other perspectives.
- I can find the courage to change.
I recently revisited this concept, when I noticed that all of the “good” tasks I had been dutifully accomplishing in the morning had become a total whirlpool of time suck. A blink of an eye, and all of the quiet “me” time I use to recharge and reset my spirit—-gone.
I’m not quite sure how to tie this into a religious context, although I will say I was reading a Buddhist-influenced book recently discussing how the goal is to employ both mindfulness and compassion to observe our lives. Mindfulness to notice where our time/money/calories are going, compassion to not judge ourselves.
Grace to allow ourselves the flexibility to change.
(Actually, I can bring it in! Serenity prayer! Ha! Published in 1951 by Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”)
Either way, it’s those profoundly simple truths that can still catch us unawares, now isn’t?
I definitely fall victim to this phenomenon often, from two different perspectives:
1) When I revert back to childhood, and I’m so caught up in how “useful” something is, I forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
(I like to call this, “focusing on ONE speck of moss on ONE tree and missing the forest”… which I have accused others of at least as often as I have had the log in my own eye).
2) When I find the courage to change. Easily expressed, hard to do, even when it’s something as simple as putting your clothes away at night instead of the morning, or having one scoop of ice cream when you’re accustomed to two (okay, this bridge I haven’t crossed #noms)
I make light of this matter intentionally because, if pressed, this discussion easily becomes quite uncomfortable.
Have you added any habits since Corona started that you’re not proud of continuing?
When you look back twenty years, would your then-self be pleased?
What “systems” have we developed that maybe aren’t the best?
The BLM movement: was that a call to change?
Does religion and church allow us the flexibility to do so?
Are we “accepting” things we shouldn’t? Are there other matters which “get your knickers in a twist/get your dander up” which, really… aren’t worth the effort?
Does our church ever “fly off the handle,” and we wholeheartedly disagree? What does that mean for our faith?
Serenity to breathe deep through our instinctive reactions;
Courage to take the change required, to even DISCUSS the hard things;
Wisdom to see the answer, after the stone’s throw, after the ripples have cleared from the pond.
Cheers, and you’re welcome for all the mixed metaphors.