Friday, November 27, 2015

What to do

Last Sunday when I was walking the dog around the back yard, I saw a pair of ducks in the creek.

I have seen them before. I assume it's always the same pair. They must live right in the area. I wonder if ducks maintain a nest when it's not the season for incubating eggs, or whether when there are no babies they just float around.

At this time of year, on weekdays, I walk my dog in the neighborhood. In the early morning and in the evening the back yard is too dark or wet or frozen or whatever. But on the weekend, I sleep in and walk the dog mid-morning sometime. So then I go around the sheds, the trees, the creek, the retaining wall, and just see how everything's doing.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I have the day off.  I walked around the yard this morning with the dog, too. Now I have a load of laundry in the dryer and one in the washer. I have great ambitions about going outside and just pulling or digging some weeds and scrub trees out of a couple flower beds. Next week some professionals are going to come and clean up the leaves and branches on the yard before winter truly sets in. If I pull stuff out of these beds and just throw it out onto the yard, the stuff should get cleaned up along with everything else. Today is sunny and clear, but the ground is quite damp, so I'm expecting stuff to pull up easily. Actually, this morning, the ground was frosty, so I'm waiting for late morning or early afternoon for it to soften up.

I also want to clean some leaves off my deck and trim back, cut down, and pull out annuals that have had it for the year in containers on my deck. Often this is done in October, but first we had a very mild autumn, when the plants were still enjoyable, and then lots of rain when it was impractical to work outside. To work outside I not only need to have the right weather, but I need the right weather to happen on a Saturday. Now it's a Friday, but it's functioning like a Saturday for me--except I have more time than usual because on actual Saturdays I go to visit my folks in the afternoon.

I treasure my time with my parents and with all my family, which is why I go see my parents on Saturday and my sister-in-law on Sunday, but I also love time at home. I fantasize about days when I don't have to go anywhere and can just putter around home doing this and that. I begin to think that puttering is my true vocation.

Frederick Buechner says that the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. Does the world have a deep hunger for my puttering? Surely creating a place and a person of peace, quiet, and contentment is worthwhile? Or is it selfish? Am I "cocooning" and closing my eyes to the needs of the world?

Candide decides the only worthwhile thing to do is to tend one's own garden, but I cannot take Voltaire as a guide to the good life. The writer of Ecclesiastes says more than once that there is nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in your work. He says this is a gift from God. The Old Testament vision of the Kingdom sees plows, pruning hooks, and every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree. However, Jesus says to take up your cross and to follow him who has no place to lay his head. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Am I living the good life or storing up judgment?

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