We grown-up people, we are responsible for a lot of details. I barely understand how this came to pass. I promise I am nowhere near qualified for half this stuff, even if “this stuff” is, say, picking out new socks for all the children. It has to be done either way, though, so we press on.
Washing the strawberries all summer, and shopping for sandwich bread twice a week, and deciding if today is a pool day: these things are not meaningless. They may not be earth-shattering, but they tell the people around us that we’re paying attention, and that we care. They hold our days together in very real ways.
So we drive to the library and to the beach, we pack the lunches and the diapers, we read the books aloud and the other books silently, we chop the watermelon and store the extra. We meet the deadlines and send the email and reply to the text messages and attend to all the other pieces that make up a day. They may be small things, individually, but there sure are a lot of them.
That’s why, no matter what I’m working on at any given moment, in my mind I’ve already moved on to whatever’s next. It’s so the details won’t sneak up and surprise me.
This is mostly a good thing. I can anticipate problems and avert disasters on behalf of the smaller folk. I can remember to make a plan for dinner at least half the time. I can prepare the children for what to expect in life. (Paradox, hope, grace.) I can let them know what’s going to happen next. (Peanut butter and jelly.)
But a habit of looking ahead doesn’t lend itself well to full stops, and we were made for rest. We were made for creativity and we were made for work and we were made for rest, and one without the others means we’re not living in wholeness.
I had lost that thread again, just lately. I had slipped into always-look-ahead mode and let it become my full-time rhythm. That’s the rhythm I was swaying to a few Sundays ago, when I sat down at church in my very fancy folding chair with my toddler on my lap.
For the record, music is not among my gifts. I cannot naturally follow a melody. I have to actively think about what we are singing and what we are about to sing. If I don’t pay close attention I wind up sort of humming along and flapping my arms to a beat no one else is hearing. Having to clap can undo me. It’s a challenge.
But that Sunday, instead of moving along from one verse to the next, the band left just four lines up on the screen. We sang that one verse over and over and over, sinking into the lyrics.
I did not have to prepare to sing the next chorus. There was no need to anticipate the next lines. I could focus on just those few words, turn them over in my heart, let them wash over me again and again, and it was enough. It was a kind of meditation, just singing that one small piece. I let the truth of the words settle on me, seep down into my marrow.
It could have been any song. Any words of truth and beauty would do. What mattered was that moment of rest. Just: rest. Just: be held. Be present. It was a little moment of letting go, of starting fresh, and that is just what I needed. Not every moment needs forward momentum. Not every moment anticipates the next. Some moments are for stillness and rejuvenation, and this was one of those.
There is time enough for preparing, for planning, for looking ahead, and there is time enough to pause. All things hold together, whether I anticipate their coming or not.
When I remember that, I can notice the gift of each moment: the moments of work, the moments of preparation, and the moments of rest. We need them all, each in their own time.
We can’t always be on top of things, and we don’t need to. The socks and the strawberries and all the other stuff will wait. We can let the rhythm of work and rest, begin and end, pause and begin again, speak into our hearts.
It sounds like: take notice. It sounds like: be filled. It sounds like: enough.