“She attended faithfully and well to a few worthy things.”
This line is from a book of meditations called Walking Towards Morning. One of the meditations was the subject of a sermon I heard recently. The line is an epitaph that the author came across once. She initially thought it a strange thing to put on someone’s headstone but eventually determined that she could not imagine “a more proud or satisfying legacy.”
The essay goes on to say:
Every day I stand in danger of being struck by lightning and having the obituary in the local paper say, for all the world to see, “She attended frantically and ineffectually to a great many unimportant, meaningless details.”
How do you want your obituary to read?
“He got all the dishes washed and dried before playing with his children in the evening.”
“She balanced her checkbook with meticulous precision and never missed a day of work–missed a lot of sunsets, missed a lot of love, missed a lot of risk, missed a lot–but her money was in order.”
“She answered all her calls, all her e-mail, all her voice-mail, but along the way she forgot to answer the call to service and compassion, and forgiveness, first and foremost of herself.”
“He gave and forgave sparingly, without radical intention, without passion or conviction.”
“She could not, or would not, hear the calling of her heart.”
How will it read, how does it read, and if you had to name a few worthy things to which you attend well and faithfully, what, I wonder, would they be?
I often think of that line and hope that I am giving well and faithfully to a few worthy things and that I am not attending frantically and ineffectually to a great many unimportant, meaningless details.
The more frantic my schedule feels the more frantic I am in interacting with my family. When my schedule feels manageable, when there’s room for taking care of myself (enough sleep, getting to the gym, enough time to get the errands run), then I am calm and present with my family.
When I say no to joining PTA, to watching another recommended television show, to joining this group or that committee, some people might think I’m lazy or uninvolved or worse. But I know my limits. The limit being the line between being frantic and ineffectual and attending well and faithfully to a few worthy things.