Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lists--Or, What I Did This Summer

I make lists. Of all sorts. Grocery lists, academic lists, chore lists--things to do and be done. but I also make lists about my hopes and dreams and maybe I’m weird that way, but I’ve found over the years that mindfully, thoughtfully considering my dreams has helped me make them reality. Some took longer than others.

Finding a home we could afford took a little while and a lot of doing, but putting it on my list created a conversation between my husband and I about what we really wanted, what we agreed and disagreed on. Of course this list begat lists but created in us a unified front in the search. The same was true of Isabella’s cleft palate surgery: we rose to the occasion together, we learned what we needed, how to ask for it, what did not work for us and how to say no. We attained each measured goal and let go the parts we couldn’t. The measure of that list was our daughter. We would move mountains for her.

Then there are the lists that seem impossible, perplexing. The growing lists of concerns about pregnancy and miscarriage. Bargaining though pieces of it (“O God, if you could please spare me a third miscarriage...”). Knowing that most of that list is out of my hands--wanting health is something I can influence but not completely control--is maddening. Shared goals get skewered and tested and we become pressed to use the virtues we’ve been given, to not only meet but greet and accept the failures as well as successes along the way. To find some balance between what we desire, even what we think we need. Because of the way I live my faith, that means taking into account God’s will for me, and working some humility into my life, knowing when to ask for help as simple as a compassionate ear.

I can barely keep up with some of the lists, they grow maniacally sometimes, but I know when I take the time to meditate on what has come to pass, I see immeasurable strides from some distant start, a place where and when I may have despaired at the outcome.

My favorite lists, though, are the ones I scribble on the back of another list--often a multiple purpose one, like a grocery/end-of-semester/packing list. I found this one at the bottom of my bag (of course), and it read of all the good things I did do: have quality time with siblings; go to the beach (as often as possible); get some New England creamery goodness and Portuguese cuisine in your gaping maw; get to know your little nieces and nephews; go to a favorite restaurant; reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in awhile; go and be quiet in sacred spaces; celebrate milestones with special gatherings; stop in a garden; run in the rain; listen. Wonder.