Is it my fault that I’m better at starting projects than finishing them?
The more I live, the more I realize that fault has nothing to do with it. The simple truth is that I’m okay with unfinished business. Tying up loose ends, for me, is analogous to eating canned spinach, something I might do, only because it’s good for me.
I’m not one who needs closure. If I’m not enjoying a television show, I’ll just walk out of the room. Sometimes, for the rest of its television shelf life. But while I don’t need closure, that’s not the kind of world I live in, either here at home — with a husband who happens to love decisions and lining up ducks in a row — or in this great big beautiful world, where we pursue high school diplomas, college degrees and all sorts of certifications.
If my husband were here, looking over my shoulder as I write, he would be nodding his head in agreement. My husband loves to have a plan to execute, while plans for me, are nothing more than one possibility. Life was once tense until we figured out we each regarded “plans” differently. Now when I causally mention a movie I might like to see “this afternoon,” he knows I’m only dreaming out loud, that I’m not really making definite plans to go buy tickets and sit in a theater.
Pity my poor husband who believes in the holiness of made beds every morning and a well-ordered kitchen. Though I finally bought in to his way of thinking on the bed, my kitchen is never orderly when I’m in the business of entertaining with food. My wonderful husband has cleaned up my kitchen messes since the beginning days of our marriage, where it seems my goal is to dirty every bowl and pot in the kitchen. Almost twenty-five years into our marriage, we each, by now, know our roles and lines:
I apologize for the mess and say, ‘Thanks, Honey,” as sweetly as I can.
He in return smiles, shrugs and says with matter-of-fact acceptance, “That’s my job.”
It’s good to know and accept our lot in life. And perhaps it begins by knowing and accepting ourselves (and each other) for who we are…. and for who we are not. It begins with knowing ourselves, followed slowly by self-acceptance, followed by a steady diet of prayer, mostly of the canned serenity variety: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
This thread of thoughts is helping me sew up one large loose end that has been hanging and dangling in the wind since Daddy died. When Daddy decided it was time to tie up loose ends here, I was in the midst of writing a research paper, a final requirement to complete my spiritual direction coursework. But after-wards, words and thoughts wouldn’t come, no matter how much I wanted them to. The writing part of me just shut down for a while, that’s all.
But tying up loose ends is very much in my business plans right now. Both at my sister’s place as well as completing that final bit of writing for class. Words are finally coming and I’m so happy I could weep. I go to bed thinking about the project and wake up with new ideas. Then I write. Steadily. I’ve almost got a first draft.
I’m writing on a subject that has attracted me for more years than I can count, with an eye toward how self-knowledge (specifically, knowing our spiritual type) ties into spiritual direction. The coupling of spiritual direction and self-knowledge is as old as the hills, of course. It’s scattered upon most every page of the Bible, from Eve to Noah to Moses to Jonah to Peter to Paul to Doubting Tom. Dick and Harry too, I imagine, though their stories never made it to print.
Spiritual direction and self-knowledge are natural companions, in any encounter between God and humans. Even beyond the pages of the Bible, we find in the fourth century B.C. writings of Plato that everyday Greek saying, “Know Thyself”, said to be one of three inscriptions carved into the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The apparent wisdom lying beneath this Greek proverb was this: seekers had to first know themselves before they could properly apply guidance received from Apollo’s mouthpiece, the priestess called the Pythia.
Then and now, self-knowledge is good soul food and a good meeting place to encounter God. Tying up loose ends has evolved into a spiritual practice for me, for there is always something of God in it when I’m picking up a loose end. God knows that loose end will be tied strictly out of love for others: My husband; My children: My sister.
And speaking of my sisters… in that photo at the top, showing my sister’s newly renovated kitchen, where Sis is busy preparing for her first dinner party and I’m busy snapping photos…. well… about those lovely kitchen cabinets. Would you believe me if I told you that they’re not quite done. They need another coat of paint.
But just between us — aren’t they pretty anyways?
The cabinets are pretty – although they certainly don’t look like they need another coat. They’re glossy and smooth enough now that they reflect the light from the fixtures, so you can probably put them toward the bottom of your “let’s tie this up” list.
As for what you say re: self-knowledge, all true. It does occur to me (and now I am putting my tongue just slightly into my cheek) that a good part of spiritual direction these days might need to be devoted to helping folks see self-knowledge isn’t the same as self-obsession. 🙂
One of the nicest parts about spiritual direction is that when it goes right, I’ve very little to do with the direction of conversation. In fact, I mostly listen.
But I hear what you’re saying — there’s definitely a difference between an unhealthy and healthy focus on self, and perhaps it comes down to motivation. And what comes out of the contemplation, perhaps?
As for those pretty cabinets of my sister’s, never fear. They are at the bottom of the tall ‘to do’ pile. I told Sis, just last week, that I began with the cabinets and I’ll finish with the cabinets. When the kitchen cabinets are finally done, so am I!