The past couple of weeks I have been looking at new calendars/appointment books. The inkling coincided with back-to-school shopping, and I’m as bad as anyone else about wanting to get something new to mark the transition into another school year.
Having decided on one, though, I wonder what is wrong with the current one that I have which will get me into the first week of January–surely plenty of time to find the next one (or actually to get proficient at using my phone calendar!). In my current well-worn book, dates are marked for the upcoming semester for the three different school calendars; helpful notes are in the back pages. I have a good thing going.
It was during an early afternoon walk in the woods, in a moment’s rest and dreaming, that I wondered if it might be that I want another chance to manage my time more wisely. Maybe a new calendar will help me bring order to the coming chaos that is my last year in seminary and the ongoing juggle of having four active children. That sounds like me, doesn’t it? Thinking that something that might bring a little more control, a little more order will surely help.
Yes, it sounds like me, but, no, it’s not likely to make anything any better. It’s just a book with calendar pages, after all, inanimate, void of all engagement.
These thoughts coincide with another thought: I’m working on a week of gratitude on Facebook. I’m to list three things I’m grateful for each day, and I’m supposed to tag three friends whom I think will/might participate. I’ve already given up on the tagging bit, but I’m totally in for being grateful.
Once you’re knee deep in gratitude, it begins to surround you.
“I’m not certain that there are such things as measures of our spirituality, but if there are, then gratitude is probably the best one. It indicates that we are paying attention.” — M. Craig Barnes in The Pastor as Minor Poet (2009)
Barnes reminds me of my old friend Mindfulness, and I realize that I do not need a new calendar. Temptation knows how to get to us every time. Marking my days with gratitude as so many wise folks encourage has a way of prioritizing one’s life. The more I am aware of what I am so grateful for, the more I see where and how God is busy at work in my life, guiding me ever-so-subtly while ultimately allowing me to make the decision in every moment.
Am I paying attention?
This life I have chosen to follow still gives me many choices, plenty of opportunities to mess up like anyone else. Barnes’ little book is full of the rich reminder of the responsibilities I am taking on . . . and seemingly more and more each day.
I will be getting a new calendar in January, if I find I still need a paper one when my current one expires. In the meantime, it is perfectly worthwhile to remember that a sense of order in my life isn’t found within the pages of the best-intentioned calendar. A sense of presence and awareness go a long way to creating the best days and a life well-lived.