Previously Published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.
The sun is out. The air is warm. Twin size sheets billow on the clothesline witnessing to the drama of toilet training. My inbox tells me I have marketing homework to do for my upcoming book, “Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers after Prenatal Diagnosis,” and a presentation to write for the Catholic Professionals and Business Club of Modesto. My husband and daughter are restoring our chicks’ water after she removed it out and got distracted before replacing it.
I hear laughter after my husband discovered the grown hen found a new spot to lay her eggs near the chicks’ pen. Living in the moment, my husband has forgotten about his scolding.
Babies know all about being, Dr. Gregory Bottaro, author of The Mindful Catholic and my former-colleague points out on his Facebook page. Perhaps his post is an excuse to share a cute baby picture of the latest familial addition which he himself delights in.
In that space between doing and being, are we still remembering what to choose? Being is not the opposite of doing. Rather it is a matter of doing it right.
There are lessons all around me to stay in the moment. “Whoever thinks from a distance about his situation lives it with suffering; whoever is close to it lives it with consolation, the fruit of a true wisdom,” writes Simone Troisi and Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo, the biography of a young woman who died of cancer seven years ago.
In order to relax, it becomes essential not to run or escape from the things that overwhelm us. Summer is here. But rather than a boozy time of vacationing on the beach or standing in line at the most wonderful place on earth (I’m told its Disneyland), the so-called staycation might teach us a better way.
The mommy-blog advice goes like this. Can’t afford a traditional vacation? Try a staycation. Take some time off work. Plan an outing to a local attraction you’ve never seen. Cook something new as a family. Eat together. Read.
That’s it. So simple. The staycation is leisure not because of a new locale, but by fully living in the one we’ve got. By living it more deeply.
When using the Swiffer on my kitchen ceramic floors with a Pinterest image of a spectacular country home in my imagination, I begin to begrudge the crumbs I swept away from the cracking tile countertop. The dirt under the picnic table, spread across the pavement like a modern painting exasperates me. What’s the use of cleaning and sweeping? The act seems futile when the bugs keep coming, no matter how many times we call BJ’s.
It is now that I see the difference between doing and being. When I pile onto my task all my thoughts about what else must be done, about an impossible standard, about some impossible goal, then my little tasks become harried and unpleasant.
But when I hang the laundry, and only hang the laundry, without thinking of anything else except evening the sheets, without counting the number of sheets I’ve washed this week, pinning the corners, pulling the boys’ pant legs out, then I begin to savor the moment with its sunshine, fresh air and peace.
The trick is taking it one thing at a time, be it the chores of the home, the tasks at work, the outings on vacation, or the sufferings of this present time. One thing at a time.