Living with my hands full

Posted on Thursday 3 September 2009

I had to grin when I saw him…mostly because I could relate. The fellow coming toward me on the sidewalk just had way too much going on at once. He led three bigger-than-average dogs on leashes (or, they led him) – and a boy of about five or six wobbled in front of him on a bike with training wheels. He was clearly stretched, but maintaining equilibrium. Then, at the moment our eyes connected, the dogs went in three different directions, his son’s bike hit a slope in the sidewalk, and he grabbed with his free hand for the bike’s handle bars just as it began to slide backward and away from him.

If I could have captured him with a camera, I would have put his picture on my refrigerator, with this prophetic caption: Pay attention. Here’s what happens when you try to do too much at once.

In a world where multi-taskers congratulate themselves, busy people are sought after to do still more, and precious few stray moments are left “unbooked,” my overextended and tethered friend was right at home. And most of the time, so am I.

I juggle all kinds of stuff from dawn to dusk. “Still” and “empty handed” aren’t adjectives anyone would be likely to use on my behalf. I frequently overestimate my efficiency and underestimate the length of time it takes to do the simplest things. I cram my days full and carry as much as (or more than) I comfortably can, whether I’m going from room to room or appointment to appointment.

In other words – my dogs are too often going one way, and my bike another.

My sidewalk encounter left me asking myself two questions: first, what am I doing? And second, what would happen if I stopped?

What would happen if I deliberately made room in any given day or week for…nothing? If I emptied my hands of possessions and hobbies and busy work, would my stillness invite anything in? Or make room for Anyone? Could there be a blessing God waits to give until I empty my hands of my usual “haul?” And finally – wouldn’t today be as good a day as any to find out?

What if I cleared a place for an altar – and found that the only sacrifice my God desired was me? I won’t know, will I, until I’m ready to stop living with my hands full?

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations…and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” But the Lord said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39-42)

©Leigh McLeroy 2009

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