The lesson in last Sunday’s sermon was on Philippians 3. It was about straining forward and letting go of what happen in the past. The pastor had a clear jar filled with fifty-two orange Ping-Pong balls, each one representing a single week of the New Year. He stressed that our time is limited.This reminded me of a promise I made to myself that I would write a post once a week for one year. Fifty-two weekends of sitting in front of a screen agonizing over my words, over the lesson I am trying to extract from the spinning chaos of the past weeks. Fifty-two different topics and fifty-two different pictures. Fifty-two times I would have to push that publish button. Fifty-two times asking myself why I put myself through this. This is post number twenty-three, my jar is nearly half empty – or is it closer to half full?
The jar the pastor used as a visual reminds me of my visual that I used the first year of my son’s death. I just have to look up from where I sit and I can see it sitting on the bookshelf. Three vases, each with an initial on the front of it, RML and each filled with over a hundred glass stones. Each stone representing every single day of the first year. When Ryan died I remember thinking that living with this type of pain for the rest of my life would be impossible. The weight of that seemed so unfathomable and I could feel the panic and the fear taking over. Until someone told me to take it only one hour at a time, I do not remember who said that to me, but it may have saved my life.
The hours eventually turned into one day at a time. I would wake up with that empty hollow feeling and the first words I would tell myself were “Concentrate on today.” I would then pick a glass stone out of the fishbowl that I filled and would carry it with me throughout the day. There were some days that I had to hold it in my hand, grasping it like my life depended on it. Other days it was enough to know it was roaming around in my purse. At the end of each day before I went to bed, I would place the stone in its vase. I still remember the sound of those first few stones clinking in the empty vase, echoing as it bounced, glass on glass. I can still hear it ringing in my ears. If I focus too long on that memory I can feel the sadness closing in now. The helplessness I felt then working it’s way into my today. I force myself to look at those 365 colorful stones and I multiply it by five, and then add five months. I then realize that this is how far I have come, over 1900 days since his death, and my anxiety dissipate.
I can now see each side of the spectrum, the days I have yet to experience and the days I that have already experienced. I realize that the scale is starting to tip towards the latter. Each day I am given the gift of another day – a glass stone taken away from one side of the scale, and added to the other. Now the filling of my jars seems to create a different kind of panic. Am I spending too much time in the past? What am I to do with this future? Am I to do more? To be more? Am I fulfilling my end of the bargain when I receive this wonderful gift of each day? All these questions fill my screen as my fingers fly over the keyboard and an overwhelming sense of panic invades my quiet time. It was the same anxiety I was feeling during the sermon. That I need to be doing something more and time is running out. What am I doing to fulfill my destiny?
I force myself to take a breath and I pray for an answer. It’s out there in the quiet. It’s in the next breath. One day at a time. Only One! I now realize that this is all I can handle effectively.
Fifty-two posts was a goal, a number to strive for, because if I didn’t set that goal I would have quit at post number five or post number twenty-two. And 365 is a number to strive towards because 1900 is unthinkable. I am going to have events in my life that need to be dealt with one piece at a time, because it is all I can handle. And if I am going to move forward I will need to do it by reaching one goal at a time.
It makes no sense to fight the forces of time, I have to move right along with it. Go with the flow of it – to find a rhythm. To let go of regret and look forward to tomorrow and cherish today