I think I’m doing fine until a miscommunication leads to a last-minute pick up from Sure Copy. Piles of photocopied class notes for the Living from the Heart course cover our dining room table. Hurriedly, I check, count, and paperclip each set of handouts, hoping I will get it all done before my brother and his wife arrive from Minnesota.
I’m halfway through when I discover one document is missing. Though I checked and rechecked my list, it was not included in the originals I gave the printer. Before I can finish counting or do anything about the missing handout, I hear a knock at the door and familiar hellos.
I greet my brother Ron and his wife, Deb, and leave my work to visit with them. But it’s hard to be present. I can’t stop thinking about what I still have to do before I leave the next day.
Our daughter and her family arrive, and we have a lovely dinner together. But as much as I try, I’m only half there. By nine, Ron and Deb can barely keep their eyes open, so they turn in for the night. I apologize for being distracted, and they are quick to forgive.
I leave the last of the dishes to Fred and turn on the computer. I begin printing copies of the missing document and, despite my prayers, the printer keeps jamming.
By eleven o’clock the dishwasher’s running, my clothes are packed, and all the photocopies are counted and in order. I go to bed but can’t sleep. Regret makes me toss and turn. I wish I’d been more organized. I wish I could have let things go and enjoyed my evening.
Around 2 a.m., I remember a friend’s wish. She said, “I wish you’d have more compassion for yourself.” I lie still and listen deeply for God’s compassion. Like a gentle wave lapping on the shore, I hear, “That was so hard.”
Together, God and I look back over the last two days and notice how I spent my time. I was delighted when I found Naomi Shihab Nye’s video for my blog post and loved how it all came together. Because I didn’t think my photocopies were ready, Fred and I had time for a walk. I sense that God enjoyed those moments as much as I did. Neither of us wished that I had been packing or counting copies instead.
I blamed myself when I got thrown by the circumstances that made it hard for me to be present, but God wasn’t upset with me, nor was anyone else. There’s a person that I’d really like to be all the time, but I’m not. And somehow that’s okay.
The next morning is sunny and spacious. Ron, Deb and I enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a long walk along Stoney Creek. They catch their ferry and, a few hours later, I catch mine.
During my week away, co-facilitating Living From The Heart, moments come like waves. Sometimes I’m lifted and delighted to be who I am. Other times, I’m dropped and dismayed by something I’ve said or done and left scrambling to regain my footing and salvage my self-esteem.
But whether the waves lift or drop me, one thing never changes–I am still in an ocean of love drawn by God’s current of compassion.
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, God saved me.
–Psalm 116:6 (NIV)
I was chatting with “Mike” (not his real name) who is a regular at the Wednesday Lunch Club, an outreach for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. I find out he used to be a chef at a prestigious hotel. He tells me one of his creations is still on their menu. One thing leads to another and he tells me how he got chatting with a manager of a local grocery store. The manager told him that right before cheque issue day, they have a fair bit of food stolen. Mike says, “Tell you what, why don’t you give me the food that’s about to expire, and I’ll take it down to the homeless camp and cook it for them.” That’s just what he did. “They loved the food and the manager’s problem was solved,” Mike said. Now that’s come incredible love mischief, eh?