From an email I sent recently:

And if contentment is all I need, and is all He's doing, than I hope He answers my daily prayer soon. I wonder how one can want contentment as badly as I do and still find it ever illusive.

As I was driving home tonight I list the things that make me feel content: a daily, normal schedule, daily exercise, rising early, lots of writing, lots of color and indoor plants, gardening, my own house--or space bigger and more permanent than my current lot--and I think that these things can't be the catalysts for my contentment. They can't be! They're far too selfish, far too worldly, far too here.

But then I remember my favorite Richard Wilbur poem, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World--and I think of laundry and housekeeping and bread-winning and daily schedules and gardens, and I realize that though we're not to love the things of this world, we're called to love and Love put us here on earth with a Garden to tend--the least I can do is tend my plot well. Even if it is just dirt.

This is my lesson daily. To tend my plot, to live by that punctual rape of every blessed day. To watch the hour hand rise and fall and rise again, its only hope a paycheck and a kept-to schedule. I'm learning about sweeping sawdust and waiting for 30, for release and a sense of what is to come.

Right now it's to be faithful with the little things, to weed that plot and keep dirt beneath my fingernails--proof that this life isn't clean and orderly and understood, but it is real and created and that I am a part of it.

Right now Love calls me to not know the end of the story, but to hang my heart, like laundry on lines, on the hope that certainty is the hour hand and the end. And that punctual rise and fall and rise again will yield another sort of hope that doesn't disappoint or be crowded out by weeds and failed seeds.

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
"Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven."

February 2008