Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day of Nothing

 Inspired by a co-pastor of the church I serve, I chose yesterday as a good day to give up.  Kathy, a long-time inspiration and one of the main reasons I wanted to become a pastor in the first place, preached about letting go of all the things we “should” be doing as spiritual practices, and instead focus on genuinely being. 

My name is Laurie and I am a to-do-list-aholic.  It gets so bad that I occasionally write down things I wouldn’t dream of not doing, just to have more things to cross off the list.   “Brush teeth”. “Cook dinner”,  “Put gas in the car”.  Check, check, check  Yeah!!  …… Yikes.

 I relish the sense of achievement of a day running errands and getting things done.  At times, I feel like all the things I do and achieve and accomplish define me.  I’m not alone.  We’re an accomplishment-oriented culture.  But it certainly begs the question … who am I when I am not “doing” anything?

Yesterday, I “did” almost nothing.  I caught up with some friends.  I watched a movie.  I finally got around to reading Slaughterhouse Five, and definitely include that on the list of “books I cannot believe I got an English degree without anyone making me read”.  I made a laughable attempt at concocting my own pasta sauce out of whatever passed as food in my fridge.  I thought.  I prayed.  I refused to feel bad about all this nothingness.  It was awesome.

I did not run to the bank, grocery shop, write letters, catch up with phone calls and emails, write my next two sermons, prepare for going before Presbytery next week, or anything remotely strenuous or productive.  It was technically my half-day off, but normally I’d fill it just like that.  None of those things are particularly urgent.  They could all wait at least one more day.

Sabbath has morphed into a hurried, ridiculous, mad-dash to finish everything that doesn’t get done the rest of the week.  I sometimes feel like even my most treasured relationships get turned into to-do-list victims.  I’m now making a conscious effort to stop that.  To worry less about what I’ve done and focus more on who I am and who I will be.  Even if that means sometimes I do nothing at all.

(Thanks, Kathy!!)


  1. Hooray for you, Laurie! We shall reclaim the Sabbath, no matter what day of the week it may be! Love and hugs to you, Kathy

  2. I too am a constant "to-do-list-maker." It is hard to just take a day and not do those chores and tasks by which I usually measure the productiveness of a day.
    I'm reading a book by a psychiatrist exploring spiritual direction and the connection between the two disciplines. He writes: "Perhaps the noisiness is a defense against becoming quiet, for in quiet one is not doing anything, and not-doing is sometimes frighteningly close to not-being." For me this seems true. Our thinking mind worries about the implications of just being. But we know we still have our being in God regardless of the amount of busy-ness going on in our lives.
    Congrats on a day of nothing!