Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Lenten discipline: wrestling with the sin of productivity.

It goes like this:
  1. build an entire identity and sense of self-worth based on what you can produce/accomplish;
  2. arrange to have a major organ shredded and sucked out through a straw;
  3. watch the fun as you try to figure out what "be-ing" looks like.
Call it the Blue Collar Curse, or imagine something deeper, hard-wired. Either way, it's hereditary. My parents were both do-ers. My brothers, too, gauge success and worth each by their own kind of productivity. It's projects for one, financial security for the other--the outcomes look totally different, but the compulsion is the same.

So I do too much. Then hurt for days. Then do it all over again. Even stranded on the couch "resting" and too tired to think, I've crocheted and cross-stitched more in three weeks than I have in the last ten years. Idle hands are the devil's workshop, my grandma used to say.

Did you know you can watch dust accumulate, day to day? Dishes pile up. Cat hair gathers like weather. A month ago, I was too busy to care very much. Now housework is the axis on which my world tilts and spins.

The recliner is both paradise and storm-swept island, rain forest and sagey desert.

Sometimes, I have no choice; I let the phone ring.

Being feels ethereal. At least Doing casts a shadow, implying substance. And it's that craving--to have substance--that has something to do with what happened in the Garden.

And yet, Jesus was both actor and experiencer. The gospel writers cite his acts--healings, signs, wonders--as proof of divinity. But Jesus said, "Tell no one . . ." The do-ing arose naturally from his be-ing. And vice versa. And oh, the God-shaped shadow!


  1. When my mama died she left miles and miles of paintings in her studio, entire fields of knitted things. She was NEVER without a project; it seemed like she wanted to not waste a moment--all her projects were possibilities. Or perhaps just mollifying the guilt gene. Little did she know that all the artwork would be salvation for her husband after she died--he has matted and framed hundreds of etchings and paintings--grief never had so good a partner.

    Doing supports being and the other way around. Mary needs Martha. It is hardest when our normal path for latching "be" to "do" gets severed (by death or surgery :-) ). Finding meaningful connections between the being and doing--that's the huckleberry.

  2. Great post and great comment, Goat.

    Couldn't say it better. Guess I have to face the light to gain the shadow.

  3. Been missing your blogging. How you feeling?

    Also, forever ago you mentioned some friends in rough times and in need of a few things. I've had some small offering awkwardly waiting for me to get on the ball and tell you they have been waylaid in my entryway. It's just a small box of kitchen stuff. Someone maybe still want them?

    Thinking of you.

  4. When you shot out three posts right in a row right after surgery I was thinking--alright! her pain, our gain. But now...2 weeks since the last....maybe we should be sending Goat over to take that crochet hook away, and while she is at is, maybe we should instruct her to clean your house and do your dishes for you. No, Goat, I can't, I'm in Montana.

    Anyway, hope you are feeling up to writing again soon.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for checking in. Recovery was going fine until I tried to add work into the mix . . . and housework . . . and laundry . . . and garden prep . . . and deacon-ish things . . . now the long trek back from inactivity. It's amazing how the whole body weakens from doing nothing.

    I'm doing better now, and as soon as I get through this work week you'll see a plethora of posts. The muse is banging on the door, demanding to be let out.