Our lives are always made up of individual days strung together. In this season, I am more aware than ever that the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives. As Annie Dillard writes “Routines are a net for catching days.” As this crisis has moved from being counted in days, to being counted in months, in seasons, in halves of a year, there is an increased sense that this is our real life. Without a time horizon of when this will be “over,” we are here given this day and then the next, an ongoing thread which makes up a meaningful time in our lives.
We may have a sense that doom-scrolling through social media, worrying about the state of virus, the nation, and the future, may not be the most fruitful use of our days. In the same way, anyone who thought that this would be the time of grand projects and finally writing the great American novel, might have underestimated exactly how stressful it can be to live through a global pandemic. We are all doing the best we can, under traumatic circumstances and are called to cultivate the language of grace.
And so, here are my thoughts on what makes a day meaningful:
Caring for our embodied selves: We need sleep, and food at regular intervals, and a way to joyfully move our bodies. Christianity is a faith that recognizes the importance of embodied lives, and food, water, rest and exercise are a part of care for the gift of the body in our lives. Stretching, a walk around the block, dancing, exercise, or whatever honors the body in our lives–an embodied action is often part of a good day.
Serving someone with love: If you have a lot of care-giving obligations you might laugh and say “HA, there is never a time I am not taking care of someone!” If you are feeling isolated at this time, you might laugh and say “who exactly am I supposed to be caring for?” And amidst this too much and too little life, there is this: it feels different when you take a breath and say “how can I do this next thing with love?” After a long string of have-to’s, how can I make this act of care one filled with patience, love, and care for my loved one? After a day feeling constrained by the walls, how might I be moved by compassion for someone else, to pick up the phone or a card to show love to someone who might need it? For me, serving someone else with love, whatever the form, breaks the cycles of despair and scarcity, to see the opportunities God is revealing to show love to the world
Working for something that matters: It matters when you can do just one thing that contributes to the biggest calls of our life: to create a world of justice, love, compassion and care. For some folks, we may be overwhelmed with work, while others may be overwhelmed by the hours before them. How can you name one meaningful thing today: from something as small as taking out the compost, to contacting a representative, or taking another step on the lifelong work of antiracism. As you look out on all that is overwhelming in this world, taking one positive step can make for a good day.
Appreciating something beautiful: The trees, sun, water, a wonderful novel, a puzzle you can’t quite solve, creating art or looking at the stars. Awe is one of the doorways to God, and opening your soul to something bigger and beautiful can open me up to something new. It is enough to look out on the water, in love with the beauty before you. It is enough to be covered with paint, a comical paint by number in front of you, and find in your laughter the laugh of God in creation.
As we look out on the time ahead, knowing that we can take only one day at a time, I pray that you might find days that can be a blessing to yourself and the world. May we each day be invited by God into days, weeks, and a life of service, awe and love.