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    Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain
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Julie's favorite books »

Friday
Apr142017

Begin with the End in Mind

Dinner is stupid. 

Quoted from a text I sent to Mando this week, this was a small, recurring theme in a string of texts induced by intense post-vacation depression.  I like to imagine that, while working away to fund my life of financial frivolity, Mando reads my texts and thinks, “I’m so glad that God gave Julie another way to communicate with me.”  In fact, I’m sure this is what he thinks. 

So I was complaining about dinner.  Nolan and Eli are eating machines: bottomless-pit, hollow-legged, blessedly healthy boys.  I’m grateful every day.  But I am stressing about dinner.  How do I get more veggies in the rotation?  Introduce them to new foods?  Manage to make a healthy meal when Mando’s traveling and all I want to do at 4:00pm is lie on the couch?  And does it matter?  Could they survive on a rotation of eggs and cereal and Big League Chew? 

I’ve been trying to convince myself that it doesn’t matter, that of course they can survive on the basics; there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to soothe my conscience.  But I realized this week that it matters to me.  I’m not planning on reinventing the wheel; I won’t post pictures of my meals and feel smug about being June Cleaver incarnate.  I’m simply noticing that I feel better when I have a plan for dinner.  Regardless of Mando’s travel, or the baseball schedule (Lord, help me), or the weather: I need a plan, and breakfast for dinner only feels like a plan when it’s not happening every night.

It’s a small thing, especially in the midst of a world that’s going quietly mad at every turn, steeped in ubiquitous righteous indignation.  But it’s not about becoming a better cook or, quite frankly, a better anything.  It’s embracing the only certainties: Now and The End.  This moment and mortality.  Death and taxes.  I want to begin with the end in mind. 

If I begin with the end in mind, I’m devoted to proper perspective.  When my thoughts have been reduced to fine gossamer threads and can no longer be gathered, or even held, would I regret all the excuses?  Would I regret resisting the invitation to growth?  It could be cooking the dinners, or writing the book, or saying yes, or saying no.  What should I be doing with my fleeting and precious moments?  How do I know?   

I know if I pay attention, if I heed the still, small voice, believing that quiet, intentional observation will reveal truth.  Paying attention and then responding to the calling: revelation and response.  When I pay attention, I notice what brings me joy, or peace, or contentment; I’m able to make the small choices to invite in more of those opportunities.  I can embrace the people in my life who bring joy and tell the truth.  I can pay attention to the way my choices make me feel: in my mind, in my body, in my relationships.  I can pay attention to my Amazon cart and buy a pressure cooker to solve all my dinner problems.

John O’Donohue puts it this way in his blessing, “For Death,” from To Bless the Space Between Us

That the silent presence of your death

Would call your life to attention,

Wake you up to how scarce your time is

And to the urgency to become free

And equal to the call of your destiny.

 

That you would gather yourself

And decide carefully

How you now can live

The life you would love

To look back on

From your deathbed.

Now: a parade of small choices, small moments, small graces.  Over time, they’ll create the trajectory of a life.  Course corrections, over-corrections, invitations and even rejections, curving up and away from the person I was and guiding me into deeper, purer waters.  It’s my prayer that my path will lead to wrinkles and wisdom and deep, abiding joy.  I pray it leads to a place where I can spend my life pouring out the radical grace of the Jesus I know, celebrating that all things can be made new: even me.

Happy Easter, friends.