Here is one of my favorite quotes. I may write about others in separate posts:
"In all of life, there is nothing so significant as the next five minutes and whether we use it to do what God lays before us... Of course, there is a place for you, but I could not possibly direct you. I have no way of knowing what the next five mintues, all your life long, will present you with in opportunities for helping others. To get the training you need, you must simply begin where you are, do the thing that lies next to you, help the next person you encounter. I am sorry. I know you thought I would give you more specific direction."
We spent quite a bit of time at book club discussing this quote. At face value, the concept is simple but to put it into practice involves moving beyond contemplation and beyond self. It requires action. And, not action to go help the poor person down in the city or the unwed mother at the local woman's shelter. If those are the people placed in your life, fine, but what I find is that the people placed into my life at this moment are my children and many times they get the short end of the stick because I want to be helping with what I consider the "big picture". I want to do something that makes me feel like I've made a difference in the world. Getting yet another meal on the table, answering another homework question or doing another load of laundry don't give me that feeling that I want. Yet, doing all of those things are the things that are placed before me on a daily basis. I will not discount making time to help other people in need but figuring out when that time is, when the time is appropriate to move beyond serving those before me and reaching out to serve those beyond me is the difficult part. At one point, one member of my book club mentioned the fact that she knew a mother with an autistic child who dedicated many of her waking hours to starting support groups and a foundation for autistic children and thier parents. In the meantime, her own child ended up spending much of his time with other caregivers. Does the "greater" good of helping the larger population make up for the lack of time she spent with her son? I don't think so. Sometimes I think we aim for that greater good because we are anesthetizing ourselves against the pain or boredom of our own immediate life.
Being intentional with my time seems to be a recurring theme for this year. In the past, I've spent too much time reading on the internet and not enough time interacting with my friends there and my friends and family in real life. This year I will be more intentional on only reading a couple posts and blogs here and there and leaving myself enough time to comment to blogs, to make a phone call or to answer my child's question or watch a movie with my husband.