I like to start lots of small cooking projects at once for the sake of “efficiency.” I think to myself, “As long as I’m making bread, I could also make cookies while that’s rising and bake them at the same time.” Okay. But then, I think, “I should really use up those tomatoes…why don’t I make pasta sauce? As long as I’m chopping onions, I may as well make tortilla soup. But I’ll have to put away dishes and wash the next load, and then dry them before I start.” And before I know it, “I should run laundry while this is going on, and once the soup starts to simmer, I can vacuum the house. But I should really put away any clutter, dust, and then vacuum.”
But really, when do I find time for solitude? Time to spend in the classroom of silence? Time to work on my writing? Most of all, time to read Scripture and pray?
I’m addicted to doing things that have clear, concrete pay offs. I cook, clean, and freelance like a maniac, so we are well-fed, live in a pretty house, and have a lot more income coming in. But at times I feel like someone who is painting the guest room while the living room is on fire. Or perhaps more accurately, I feel like someone who is bailing water before plugging the holes in the boat. Without that silence, that prayerful solitude, that time to listen to the eternal call, all that I do can be outsourced. Anyone can cook and clean for me.
This week I am going to step back from the chaos, and plan for the basic needs of the household. This weekend I’ll make a crock of soup or chili, two loaves of bread, a casserole, and some lunch foods/snacks for Fierce. I’ll plan out when I’m going to do the basic cleaning, and stick to it. During the week, I will start my day with prayer. Instead of doing housework all morning, I will sit with my son and give him my undivided attention. Once he is immersed in his blocks and trains, I will sit on the floor near him and finish reading Corinthians. When he naps, I will pull out my manuscript and work on it. I am two thirds done with it, and I have stopped working on it. This is not because it isn’t good (I’m pretty sure it’s excellent); it’s not because I don’t care or don’t have it in me to finish.
It’s because I am addicted to the small stuff. I don’t mean the charming details of life that God plants as clues to the nature of our supernatural existence. I mean the recipes for poultices for removing stains from stone countertops, the endless email culling, the paperwork, the budget planning, the online shopping, the dusting, the meticulous organizing, the daydreaming about future grandeurs, the Facebooking, the acquiring.
This is a prayer that I will say this week, as I strive to get myself back on track:
Dear Lord, You know that I am weak and easily distracted. You know that I am proud and foolish. You know that I have great potential that I squander with great dispersal of the talents you have given me. You know that I want to reflect your light unto the world. You know that I want to be your joyful child with a faith strong enough to heal wounds and move mountains. You know that I want to be your lion, even as you call me to be gentle as a lamb. You know that I will resist your attempts to help me become the best version of myself, but I ask you, to persist in guiding me closer to you. Help me find in each day the inspiration I need to remember who you are and where you are calling me. Help me love others more sincerely, more selflessly. Help me to cease judging others and to see them as you see them. Help me to be more like Our Lady, a joyful wife and mother. Help me be like Jesus, a true friend and your obedient son. Let me decrease so that you might increase. Use me as you will.