Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Do

I like to make lists. I make grocery lists, lists of school assignment due dates, lists of what to pack on a trip. I write lists on paper and now have free apps on my phone that let me make lists digitally. Lists keep me organized and help me to ensure that I don't forget anything important. Lists can be a wonderful thing.

But sometimes I feel as though I'm living my life like it's a list. I start to view everything in my day as just another item to be accomplished and checked off so that I can move on to the next. Things I love to do start to be framed in my mind as just another item on the day's list. I have woken up on a day off thinking, "Ok, first I need to take a walk. Next I need to play with the dogs before I bake chocolate chip cookies. Then I want to read at least three chapters of this novel that I am reading purely for pleasure." This frame of mind can really suck the joy out of life.

Yesterday I woke up to one of these days. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a slight breeze so it wasn't too hot. I dutifully got dressed and went outside to take a walk, not because I was excited to move around in the lovely weather, but because it was the first thing on my mental list for the day. I don't remember much about the first half mile or so of the walk. My mind was absorbed in all of the other things I *had* to do that day, which led to the list for the next day, which led to the next...

A turkey brought me back to noticing what is important.

Turkeys are big, funny-looking birds. I think they are one of the animals that can be pointed to when people want to show God's sense of humor. And there, in my neighborhood, just wandering along, was a turkey. I stopped walking and watched it as it meandered across the road, through someone's yard, and out of sight. As I resumed my walk I started to notice other creatures - several types of birds, a few squirrels. I saw the trees and flowers in all of the yards along the street. I felt the warm sun on my face and cool breeze on my skin. I noticed the houses and thought about how blessed we are to have safe homes with running water, electricity, and climate control. One positive thought lead to another just as my stressful thoughts had just moments before.

Joy, hope, beauty, peace - they're all around us. My prayer is that I slow down enough and look outside myself enough to see, and truly embrace them.

P.S. Brought to you by Patrick on Spongebob Squarepants.