Whack-a-mole. What a brilliant image. Some days I feel as if I’m playing whack-a-mole with my to-do list, constantly trying to mark things off only to find more items auto-populating at a dizzying speed! Sort of like today actually. Here it is late in the afternoon, and I’m only just writing my reflection. The truth is, one of my challenges—and my shortcomings—is that I always think I can fit more into the time I have than is actually possible. Just ask my family. On second thought, please don’t!
Time is so strange, isn’t it? How come it flows so slowly on vacation and so quickly when you have an approaching deadline? A crisis can provide clarity and focus as one intuitively engages a bit of triage, letting go that which is truly unnecessary. Vacation can provide lots of opportunity to remember, renew, recommit and reset. And yet ordinary time, in-between time, can be dominated by the whack-a-mole phenomenon without obvious moments to reset and reclaim our selves, to remember what is at the core.
Last night, some of us from St. Simon’s joined together with over 100 people from the three great faith traditions to pack nearly 14,000 meals at Feed My Starving Children, enough to feed 37 kids for a year. Afterwards, we were hosted to an Iftar meal, breaking the daytime fast of Ramadan for our Muslim sisters and brothers. There were speeches and prayers, together with mountains of food and a great deal of laughter. In some ways, it brought me out of my comfort zone—the customs, the language and even most of the people were unfamiliar to me. I found myself wondering what was next or if I was doing something right or even questioning why they didn’t do things like we do. But when I gave into the moment, I found myself caught up in the beauty of it all—the colors, the smiles, the traditions all making an amazing tapestry revealing the rich glory of God.
As people of faith, we are called to remember, renew and recommit in relationship with a good greater than ourselves. We want a world that knows peace. And yet we clearly live in a world that doesn’t know peace. It is easy to be discouraged with what we see and hear, and to feel disempowered, even as we are caught up in our own agendas, our own endless to-do lists that seem to have very little to do with that greater vision.
I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the powerful way he combined vision casting together with the essential importance of offering of concrete real steps that can be undertaken in this moment, in this day, toward that vision. I love this wisdom he offered:
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Last night’s experience is a powerful reminder of the lively intersection between concrete steps and larger vision. There were many actions on different days over the prior months that made yesterday possible—both on my own list and on the list of many others. And at the same time, yesterday’s experience is a taste of the larger vision I’m committed to, a world of connection and belonging, of diversity and generosity, of joy and delight.
How do we, both personally and corporately, embrace both a vision and the present moment steps toward that vision? My whack-a-mole to-do list is overwhelming if seen as disparate pieces all vying for my attention. If, on the other hand, those items are steps in a larger vision for my life—and I’m in touch with that vision and deeply connected to it—they aren’t multiplying moles, they are ways to move more deeply into the yearned for dream. And if they aren’t, what are they doing on my list in the first place?