Reflecting on lists and helping.

I struggle sometimes with scale. Not the kind that comes in tubs from hard water or the kind that comes on fish. Scale as in, “How many? How many more?” But then, on my best days, I shake my head and say (to myself), “focus on being helpful.” These three items may be helpful to a couple of you. And that’s enough.

1. I just discovered Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. It’s not about checklists or to-do lists. Not exactly. In the first part of the book, called “Why make a list?’, she answers with a series of short chapters that answer the question. “To discover subtle layers of feeling” and “to decide what to let go of” are two of the chapters. She explains, she illustrates, and then she offers suggestions of lists for us to make. “What is no longer useful to me” is one example. As of 5/6/2020, it was $1.99 on Kindle, so it’s an inexpensive try.

2. I think my early reading of that book guided making a list of fears. That book and the pain I feel for people who can’t be in the hospital with their loved ones these days. “I couldn’t be there when they died” is one exploration of why it’s so hard. Not the only exploration, of course, but I’ve been at enough deathbeds in the last few years and have heard enough stories that I’m pretty sure we often are afraid of not being bedside. And sometimes, taking a muddled feeling and putting specifics to it helps us act.

3. A month ago, when I was falling behind on a number of projects, I made a list. And then I wrote this:”Your list is long enough. Don’t add other’s stuff today. Tomorrow? Yes. But not today.” It’s beginning to work. Slowly. It’s rooted in the word I gave myself for this year: Finish. It’s inspired by Paul’s words to one of the churches he served. “Finish the work,” he said. It’s a good word.