catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 14 :: 2012.07.06 — 2012.07.19



One of the tools we use for working together as a *culture is not optional volunteer staff is a web site that allows us to post files, collaborate on documents, message one another and create to-do lists.  I take great satisfaction in checking the box next to the items that have been assigned to me — designing posters, making connections, writing press releases.  More often, however, I’m haunted by the boxes that go unchecked for months, maybe even years. And beyond the poor neglected items, what’s not contained by the list is greater than what is. I lie awake at night considering all that we haven’t been able to break down into bite-sized, to-do list-friendly pieces.  It’s those things that haunt my bedside like the ghosts of tortured souls stuck in eternal limbo, longing for completion.

In such wakeful, worrying moments, liturgy might come to my rescue if I can remember the words of the confession from the Book of Common Prayer:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

And yet: not everything that gets left undone is a sin.  Sometimes, it’s just a mark of our shared humanity, a rightful reminder of how we are not superheroes, clearing the tallest tasks in a single bound.  The poem often mistakenly attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero puts is nicely:

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

And long before the mystery author penned those words, Paul was putting it his own way in his second letter to the Corinthians:

And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something — now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.  For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has — not according to what one does not have. (8:10-12)

Get it done, says Paul, but don’t stress about doing more than you’re equipped to do.  Just relax. Everything’s going to turn out fine. 

So much grace to go around and yet I have a hard time putting it into practice, especially in the wee hours furthest from the clarifying light of day.  I supposed this is when a prophetic imagination is in order, an imagination that can fathom taking delight in each day’s work as it comes, content to be a human in this big, wild world pursuing ordinary faithfulness one confession, one poem, one letter, one poster, one assignment at a time.

Last night when I finally fell asleep in our 90-degree apartment, I dreamed that I returned to one of sweet pepper plants that’s been struggling to survive in my scorched garden and I was surprised to discover that it had doubled in size and even had a full-grown pepper on it ready to harvest.  Paying attention to my dreams: check.  Letting God’s grace enter and do the rest: may that particular assignment never fall off the bottom of the list.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus