A few light things for Friday—in no particular order. I share them on the off chance they inspire you to try one or more of them yourself… or veer off in your own direction of simple pleasures:
1. Each day I write in my one-sentence journal. This is great for folks who have an impulse to journal more regularly but who feel overwhelmed at the thought. You don’t have to document everything! One sentence a day is plenty. It’s a manageable chunk, it takes very little time, and what fun to go back and read them! In my case though, it’s a three-sentence journal. Each night I write one sentence about each of my kids—something they did or said, a funny or profound thing I noticed, milestones and ordinary moments I’m sure to forget. It’s also served as a good confessional as I write down moments that I blew it with one or more of them…
I’m hopeless with scrapbooking, and even getting digital photos printed and in albums or frames is a once-a-decade affair, but this I can do. Robert’s even stepped in to write for me at least once, and it’s fun to see what he notices that I missed.
2. I’m a little late to the Praying in Color party but I recently bought the books and think this approach has great potential as a spiritual practice. Here’s how it’s done. I took some time the other day to try it out and started with my three favorite subjects, and the people for whom it’s simultaneously easiest and hardest to pray. (see #1) When Caroline came home and saw them she immediately got it and wanted to try praying in color herself. Since then she’s made one for me and one for her Aunt Christina who’s sick with pneumonia. I’m intrigued by the words she chose to doodle around the perimeter of my piece, which included laughter, hope, happiness, and wind. (Wind? I love it, it’s the Spirit.)
Incidentally, I think this has great potential as a meditative practice, even for those who have a different view of God (or no belief in God). It’s a way of getting beyond words and holding people in your heart, or as the Quakers say, “in the light.” And though this hardly needs to be said to those who know me, I have no visual artistic ability or training and this practice really isn’t about that. At all.
3. I made a resolution to write more letters this year—not e-mails, actual letters—and that’s been neat. I think a lot about technology such as Facebook and am more and more aware of its limitations and challenges. I found some fun stationery that was nice, but not so nice that I’d feel pressure to write something “worthy” of the paper. My hope is to write three letters a month. So far I’ve hit my grandparents, whom I supposed would be most likely to remember corresponding in this old-fashioned way… seriously, I feel like Laura Ingalls when I sit down with a pen and paper.
4. This last one is a very ministry-specific thing, but I’ve totally changed the way I do the prayers of the people. I realized I was being way too haphazard about my prayers each Sunday in worship and it was stressing me out. I like praying extemporaneously, but I always felt I was forgetting stuff. I’d be making notes in the 30 minutes before church, checking CNN on my phone going “What happened this week again?” Not very intentional.
As I analyzed this problem and how I could do better, I realized I needed a place to record things that came up during the week. So I’ve created a weekly repeating to-do item called “prayers of the people” (I use Things for Mac/iPhone) and when a big news event happens or a member of the church asks for prayers for a loved one, I jot it down right away. And that list is always with me so stuff isn’t as likely to get lost. I add to it throughout the week and then on Friday I use the list to write a prayer.
I also know there are “chronic” situations that we don’t need to pray for every week, but we need to remember regularly. Now I have a place to record those too.
I imagine this seems very inorganic and hyper-organized to some. There are many ways to go about this pastoral task, and I’m interested in how other clergy do this. But I believe that just as flexibility and spontaneity can be spiritual gifts, organization and planning can be too.
What’s enriching your life lately?