At last – I escaped – three traps!
My first trap was my checklist. It can become handcuffs. How can I relax when so many things aren’t finished? There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, all to be filled.
My second trap was the Bad News Bears, otherwise known as any news reporters’ latest take on our economic or global crises. I hear or read one bad story and immediately search for something – anything – to give hope. This much news can’t be bad. It is.
The third trap is surviving how the second trap impacts my own family. What do we do, how will this impact us, and how do we survive it? How do we provide for our children? What are real needs and what are things we just want?
There go the traps again. I escaped them when I dashed outside with a basket of wet laundry. When I hang laundry, I can rationalize I’m working on 2 of those traps. First, laundry is always an item on every to do list. If I hang laundry, maybe it will cut our gas bill. Sometimes I wonder – if I hang all laundry for 4 people for an entire month, how many calories does it burn? Can this count as exercise if I go out and check each load three times?
My kids don’t enjoy laundry hanging like I do, so it becomes the one time I know I can have alone time with God.
I laugh at myself. Have I become a homeschool stereotype if I hang laundry, grow food, can it, and grind wheat? Or does that happen when I plow the front yard to plant my own prairie gold?
Brains need toggle switches. I need to live more, think less, and get back to the present.
The acorns and leaves crunch beneath my feet. As I grab a pair of jeans to hang on the line, I look up at the sun and rejoice at the gentle breeze. The sun and the wind will dry our clothes. As I hang the laundry, our overfriendly kitten races to get under my feet, perhaps in hope that he will one day trip me.
For those brief moments as I hang laundry, I get perspective on global problems. They no longer seem pressing. A silver lining in a slower economy is we drive less, shop less, and walk to a slower drum. When I hang laundry, I savor the fall air and feel a connection to my grandmother, and her grandmother, and those early pioneers who fought wildfires, droughts, and worse. They made it. We can make it too.
Most of our garden is gone, but we have some fall vegetables. This week, as I picked cauliflower and broccoli, it was easier to thank God for fresh vegetables. When I stopped at the grocery store and saw the prices on the produce shelves, I thanked Him again.
On days when my clothesline epiphanies really help me escape today’s traps, I pause a few moments to pray. From my backyard park bench, I can sit in the shade of holly trees with my clothesline on one side and my garden on the other. This is my secret garden, my quiet place of retreat, nestled in the center of a city, just a few feet outside the chaos of a 21st century family with teens.
While I pray, our kitten savors his first fall. Every leaf blowing in the wind is a potential enemy, waiting on him to pounce and demolish it. As I throw my cares to the Lord, the kitten races through the back yard, leaps on the park bench, jumps on my shoulder, lunges 10 feet back to the ground and then runs 15 feet up a tree. Only then does he realize he forgot how to get back down the tree. In time, he will remember.
It’s easy to get frustrated with his distractions from my important stuff. Doesn’t that stupid kitten know this is my personal, alone time with God when I can pray and do that serious stuff? Of course, a kitten doesn’t know that.
But I realize as he amuses me that God is answering my prayer. Yes, the problems are significant. But when I pray, He gives me perspective so maybe I will spend a little less time searching news or attacking checklists. Instead, I’ll spend more time praying – and enjoying our kitten, those rebellious teens, and my ever-patient husband.
Some call it a clothesline. Environmentalists might call it a responsible use of wind and solar energy. My neighbors probably call it one more way that the Biever family is just plain weird and probably a little nuts.
I know better. That clothesline, when my feet are planted firmly on the ground and my arms are raised up, hanging laundry, can be my lifeline to Christ.
For precious moments, I see my world more like He does, instead of with my human eyes.
Mary Biever, a homeschool mother of two, serves as the secretary for Southwestern Indiana Home Educators. http://www.marybiever.com/
Read her blog in Blog Towne: http://forums.crosswalk.com/fb.aspx?m=21618