Live in the needs of the day, Buechner writes.
That means today I live in the needs of this day.
I haven’t been taking that to heart, head, or body during the last few days. Moments of fear that I don’t know how everything is going to work in the coming months, scared into the “what if’s,” and sidelined by the realization of what I didn’t think about—those are the needs I’ve been most responsive to; distracted from my everyday routines when I least expect it.
What does it mean today to live in the needs of this day? How do I realistically plan for the changes ahead or do I? Could paying attention—to what is new, what is challenging, how I am using my gifts, where my water is that includes going to the grocery store, cleaning out clutter that I don’t want to move, grading and emailing, having lunch with my friend—be what to do?
Yesterday for several hours I was totally immersed in helping a new instructor in a course I’ve taught many times. I had already sent him my recent syllabus and detailed instructions for major assignments. As I responded to his queries in our phone conversation, I realized my propensity for talking too much when asked a simple question. I continued afterward in the written equivalent of “talking too much” to rework what I promised to send him and email a former student for permission to share an example of classwork- more stuff.
Lamenting my perceived mismanagement of my time for this day, I said to my husband, “Why did I spend so much time on that?” The hidden layer of meaning in that question being: there are so many things I haven’t gotten to today and I should have done those.
“Maybe it’s your gift,” he simply said.
It’s so easy to get caught up in things that seemingly don’t really matter or maybe they do matter. How do you know when you are in the midst of the everydayness?
In that span of time when I was engaged with “helping” I wasn’t aware of time being spent nor did I conjure up any fears or what if’s. Actually, I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I was immersed in figuring out how to respond, unconscious of myself, to this person I really don’t even know in this particular situation that happened.
The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak—even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. God speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.
Don’t be afraid. Maybe that is your gift. Remember and at the same time forget so that you can be fully immersed in the presence of this moment.
Follow your feet. Put on the coffee. Start the orange juice, the bacon, the toast. Then go wake up your children and your wife. Think about the work of your hands… Live in the needs of the day.