Will My List Make Me Less or More Wonderful?

The empty tomb of Easter clearly shows in the rear view mirror. Hope renewed, new life has been proclaimed. 

What will the next age resemble?

One month into the restricted movement phase of the coronavirus pandemic, the time for lists has arrived. Living into the next reality of Easter and post-COVID-19 shall include:

  • Learn two languages
  • Lose 40 pounds of fat and gain 10 pounds of muscle
  • Become a passable cook
  • Finish moving in - cull the closets until spare hangers, and empty shelves appear.
  • Organize the storage locker
  • Buff the condo - spring cleaning on steroids
  • Cultivate a continual, hopeful disposition - purge sarcasm and skepticism
  • Stop eating all foods that promote inflammation/arthritis - basically anything full of fat and salt, including peanuts, junk food, potatoes
  • Read four books of good literature - no murder mysteries and thrillers
  • Watch less than one hour of television a day
  • Upgrade online skills so I can get back onto the on-ramp of the information super-highway
  • Become a better person

So far, on the list titled “Completed,” I have written

  • Make a list


Same Old Litany

As my wife listened to the initial recitation of my new list, she observed, “Sounds like the same old litany I’ve been hearing ever since I’ve known you.” (Which, for the record, is only a matter of weeks - 1820 to be precise.)

The word “litany” is a church word that has deep roots that extend into the pre-history of Christianity. A litany is a set sequence of words, usually requests to God or reminders to the congregation. Some can be mind-lullingly long; others, like one of the very first, Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy), move quickly to the point.

At their best, litanies serve as words of comfort - “Oh yes, I remember now that God may be present in this situation, and everything is not up to me!” They can articulate some of the deep yearnings of the heart and the longings of the community. “Save us during this hour of trouble.”

Deflection and Avoidance

For some of us, the not-always-righteous, they can facilitate deflection and avoidance.

Some nameless person observed that just because you name something doesn’t mean it is going to change automatically. Alas, such is true spiritually as well as in areas of personal growth.

The words of a litany can serve as a temporary pain reliever that can stop us from excavating further.

In our church, I am fond of the creed that begins “We are not alone. We live in God’s world.”

Really? What does that mean? Is “God’s world” a designation of ownership, of control? Does the phrase refer to a dimension of reality in which God is always present and active? Or, do I simply use it as an excuse, a shifting of responsibility - “God’s world. God’s problem.”

During this unintentional, albeit privileged, time for reflection, I shall look again at my list - another task for the list! What hunger or yearnings lie behind some of the items? Which are matters of justice? Which are responses to or deflections away from a more profound calling? Are some pure fantasies born out of failures in Grade 8? Or has God been prodding, sometimes with a gentle push or, more often, like a hockey stick across the forearm?

These kinds of questions mean I shall have to edit, if not shorten, my list. Ha - another item for the list!

Of the issues that remain, a high-performance coach would ask: Which of these are the most strategic? What are the next steps you might take to realize this goal? What factors hold you back?

Excellent questions that I shall get to right after one more episode of Schitt’s Creek.

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