Conflicting Concerns

As I have said before, my paid work for Quakers at the very broad level and my responsibilities to my family at home are more than enough to fill my every waking minute. I already feel like I’m not keeping up.

But every so often, a concern arises in my heart and mind that doesn’t fit neatly into one of those buckets. Issues at my monthly meeting, in my yearly meeting, in my kids’ school. Things that have been laid upon my heart to care about but that I really don’t have time for.

Except that we all have time for the things that really matter. As Thomas Kelly says, even very busy lovers find time to write long letters to each other, because they care. I used to say, “If I have time to complain about it, I have time to do something about it.”

So we have to make choices. Every minute I spend on one thing is time away from another and this is true for everyone. I prioritize sleep. I make time to go to some but not all of my kids’ athletic games. I am not serving on any committees or teaching First Day School at my monthly meeting. So on the whole I have a reasonable balance.

And then come these special moments. I don’t know whether to call them temptations or distractions or openings. I am specifically not giving examples here because they are too personal and too much involving other people to get into in this space. I guess I can say they variously involve sex, money and God, but not all three at once, for which I am grateful.

So anyway, the point is that I’ve been trying to sort out what is really mine to do, and what I just need to let go of. Like I said last year, courage, serenity, wisdom, and the discipline to make myself stick to a decision and not keep fretting in the middle of the night over things that I decided are not mine to work on.

And the spark for putting this into a blogpost was an insight that came to me in worship this morning. A 100 year old Friend spoke about how grateful she is that 90 years ago, a Sunday school teacher made her memorize certain passages from the Bible. She still remembers the Beatitudes, for example. She was recently reminded of these because a couple of months ago she was temporarily blind after a surgery but she still had these verses, and some poetry she also memorized over the years. She is so grateful now even though at the time she wondered what good it would do.

So my new yardstick, among the others I have been using, is to consider what I’m going to care about 90 years from now. Ok, maybe 50 years is all the horizon I need to worry about. In any case, I need to ask not just what has the most heat and Light in it right now, but what will I care about later? What will I regret? What will my grandchildren care about? What does God care about? What will I be held accountable for in the long run?

This is helping me sort through the recent concerns with more clarity. And I hope that this reminder, like so many things that I’ve heard before but needed to hear again, will help me sleep better in the coming months.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks, Robin, great yardstick. The need is so great...and the world needs our balance as much as our commitment. - Lucy

2/18/2013 5:42 PM  
Blogger Christine Greenland said...

Robin, that's what we all need to do...

2/18/2013 7:27 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Let's all sleep better at night.

2/18/2013 7:56 PM  
Blogger Jnana Hodson said...

I, too, have been deeply concerned about handing over our faith, and I like your figure of the next 70 or so years.
I started coming at this from the question of "Just what do Friends believe?" and was soon looking not at belief but an underlying teaching -- a system of thought expressed in the interlocking metaphors of the Light, the Seed, and the Truth. What emerges is an alternative Christianity, something bold, original, and refreshing.
We have a great deal to offer and nurture.

2/20/2013 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Jana said...

What a beautiful post, Robin. I'm so glad I read it today. You're right--thinking about what matters in the long run, where we put our energy and attention, is so important, but also very difficult. Going to meeting each week helps me with that, but so does walking, connecting with Friends, and looking for hopeful messages, wherever they arise.

2/25/2013 1:09 PM  

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