It’s Saturday morning, and I am sitting in the customer lounge at the Honda dealership waiting to have my car serviced. A couple of days ago, the little wrench lighted up on my dashboard, accompanied by the symbols A 13 which, combined, mean oil change, tire rotation, and cleaning and resetting of brake calipers. Who knew?
Actually, on the day the little wrench began glowing it felt like just one more thing…one more plate I had to keep rotating or balancing in the air, in addition to all the others. My life right now, you see, feels a bit like those jugglers who left me breathless as a child, the ones appearing on the “Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday evenings who managed to keep numerous plates spinning on rods, all the while tossing ten pins or balls into the air, while an assistant on the sidelines kept tossing additional items into the mix. I recall these amazing jugglers (most often men) moving rapidly, their attention divided yet completely focused on each task at hand, moving rapidly around the stage, like perpetual motion machines, keeping everything going, perfectly balanced- and only rarely did something fall. My own applause joined that of the audience as I remember thinking, “How in the world does he do that?,” little knowing that life would call upon me to take up my own juggling act more than once in my life.
And now is one of those times, as I am attempting to balance care for my sister, recently diagnosed with cancer; care for my son, discouraged by the fruitless job search and tired of living with his mom; care for my job as chaplain at the Lutheran Home in Winston-Salem, as elderly residents fail and die and attachments sadly end; care for the little congregation outside Lexington where I have served for the past 17 months; care for the women’s discussion group from my church which looks to me for organization and leadership; all without neglecting my other children and grandchildren, my friends, and- oh, yes- myself. Can you just picture those plates spinning, those balls flying in the air as I reach out to catch each one, only to toss it aloft again? Can you see me running across the stage of my life, frantically trying to make sure none of these vitally important plates falls?
Of course, the one which most often does is self-care. I have not attended a yoga class in two weeks, though I’ve been practicing a bit at home on my own. I am eating pretty well- no wheat, no dairy, no sugar- but walking daily is just not fitting into life right now. At the end of a long day, I must confess to too often vegging in front of the TV, mindlessly watching “Law and Order” reruns instead of reading one of the many book in my Kindle or on my shelves. My writing is nonexistent and my poetry has been relegated to the “few and far between” corner. And as I re-run the past several months of the video of my life, I see far too few times for fun and play and laughter.
But for the past several mornings, a little Carolina wren has been visiting my backyard deck, sitting on the rail and singing for all he’s worth, producing an incredible amount of sound from that tiny body. The serenade lasts and lasts and lasts, usually ending only when I exit the back door to go to my car, at which point he flies off into the trees, flicking his tail as if to say, “Hope you have a good day. I’ve done my part. The rest is up to you,” reminding me of Jesus’ tender admonishment to “regard the birds”. Somehow these lovely feathered creatures manage to survive in an often-hostile world, manage to build their nests and raise their young and find food sufficient to keep them alive- and still find time to sit on my deck and sing. And I dare say, worry is not part of that daily experience, since we humans are the only creatures who worry.
So, here I sit…breathing deeply…writing the words of my heart to you and you and you…sipping the decaf soy latte that is my morning treat. Here I sit, letting the cares of the day slip away or at least be put into abeyance as there is nothing else I can do at the moment. Here I sit, knowing that my car is in good hands, that this small task will soon be completed, rendering my car fit for the first of many trips to Arlington to be with my sister. Here I sit, thankful for the sunshine and the blue skies and the tiny Carolina wren who so beautifully began my day with glorious song…and, at this moment, it is enough.