How many emails is it reasonable to digest and respond to in a day?
How much information is enough?
In a posthumously published book (A Failure of Nerve, Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix) , Edwin Friedman maintains that we are near paralyzed with the volume of information we have coming at us day after day. We don’t take action or take the risk involved with bold leadership because we feel that we have to somehow have all the information possible in order to decide wisely. We are paralyzed by this information overload. It stalls us physically, and even imaginatively.
Medical intuitive Carolyn Myss maintains that the zinging through the air of the so-much information beamed through emails and wireless portals affects our beings at a cellular level. We are bombarded; under seige.
At a training I was at yesterday the presenter maintained that stress (the common day lament of the masses) is not caused by doing too much. It is caused by not doing the things that we should be doing. When we knowingly set aside or try to ignore the things we know are ours to do, we become stressed.
Provocative. So maybe what this means is that on this Friday night when I owe no one my presence I will relieve my stress by doing what I know I need to do. I will stop. I will stop inputting and outputting and allow a wide-open space for my whipped-into-a-frenzy input-overloaded brain.
No emails. No tasks. No interactions. No easy thing, this.
There are so many ways lives are poured out. Watching the news from Haiti and imagining the want and fear that drench that land is almost overwhelming. And, I am a part of a people sending prayers and aid over the water and that helps.
Working at our monthly food distribution (two bags of groceries given per person, no questions asked) I encounter volunteers who offer to come to this church and teach Spanish classes. They are delighted to be asked, and generous in their response. This will happen, this tutelage of mono linguists such as myself. Barriers melt when relationships are tended.
I have been asked to speak at the state capitol on February 11th at the Freedom to Marry Day held by Outfront MN. The rally seeks to name the injustice that exists when beloveds of the same gender are denied the right to marry. I will speak, because as a person of faith I believe that injustice wounds all of creation and silence countenances the wounding. As a part of this movement sparked by Jesus, speaking helps.
I sat on Saturday with a family who is returned from years of seeing the face of Christ in others in lands far from here. They were willing to share their questions and their convictions and their story and I am moved yet by the sacrament of holy conversation.
Where else can one such as I find such beauty? There are people who want to be a part of healing and shaping and living into the promise of wholeness. I am a part of their number and together what we do helps. It surely helps me.
It is sacramental: Morning spent sharing coffee and conversation with heart people.
My household has been peopled with usually far-flung children for almost two weeks now. Blending families with three children per spousal unit means six young adults and their partners who are generous enough to carve out time over the holidays to touch base with their parents and siblings. They come and go and bless.
Mornings have meant numerous pots of coffee and conversations rich in laughter and thought. We are sleep-fuzzed and trust each other enough to clomp downstairs in the rumple that is rest. Days passed are savored and the day to come planned and singing through the whole is the hum of gratitude. We are together, we are warm and stilled and relaxed in the cocoon that is home.
Tomorrow my Denver daughter and her partner leave for the rich good that is their life there. I cannot get over how her nearness affects me at a cellular level. My whole being feels full of right and good when I can hear her voice and see her beauty. The power of subconscious body celebration is so real. And, blessing her on her way is my job as her mother.
The discipline is living the now. And so I do. Savoring coffee and love and being.
My husband, daughter and daughter’s beloved are off on a grocery store mission. Tonight, the men will take the kitchen and create gifts. Football games and basketball games and comings and goings and wide open spaces make for the good of this day.
What I like about the feast to come is that each of us will contribute our own touch. The kitchen will soon be chaos, the ribbing and jostling for space, mutterings about inferior knives (will I EVER have knives that are sharp?) and tools not deemed suitable to guest chefs will be thrown out and deflected. And we will sit down to eat at a table ringed by the most beautiful faces in creation.
Me? I am making mango salsa. And then I am getting out of the way.
May the indrawn breath that is new year’s day bless and sustain. May we trust the good we bring to all tables. May we soak in the beauty and laugh and launch and live.