One of the various things I have been doing during 'lockdown' is re-decorating various bits of the Rectory. When I moved in 11 years ago I painted every room but never got round to re-painting the woodwork and doors in the hall, landing and upper corridor. Now they are all shining white and the decorating bug has bitten me so other bits of the house are getting a 'freshen up' as well. I had been meaning to re-painting tall that woodwork but I never seemed to get round to it. Lockdown removed all my excuses. Lockdown has also enabled me to sort out a particular desk drawer that I meant to do for the last 10 years, it took 10 minutes. Why did I leave it so long? Now I am looking at my study bookshelves.
The priest-poet and Church Times contributor Malcom Guite recently wrote:
"One advantage of the present confinement is that it has given me the time, and occasionally, the inclination to start re-shelving the many random piles of books in my study - or at least to begin that Herculean task."
That is where I am at today and I am encouraged by his words that follow that paragraph;
"To be honest, I have not got very far with it..."
Guite goes on to state that it is all too easy to get distracted by what one ought to be doing by the things that capture one's eye or imagination. In his case a folio edition of the 'Rubaáiyát of Omar Khayyám' in my case pottering in the garden and enjoying the sunshine.
How easy it is to NOT do the things one really should be getting on with and to let other things distract one. I think, we can all be guilty of that sin, doing things we want to do rather than what we really should be doing. Sometimes it can be due; to excitement in finding something new or long forgotten again; or selfishness; or temptation; or whatever. We are all rather good at putting things on our to do lists repeatedly and not doing them. It can be like that in our relationship with God. We mean to spend more time in prayer but don't. We mean to put others needs before our own but we don't. We mean not to give into temptation but we don't. It is part of the human condition that we can never be as 'good' as we might want or wish to be but then we are human and not perfect.
I wonder if we were perfect, if we might get bored with ourselves and our lives? I know for myself that it is the opportunity I have to try and do better that spurs me on to try and be just that - something better than I am. What is important, I believe, is to know that one is not perfect and that one will always be guilty of leaving undone those things one 'ought not to have left undone'. When one knows and acts upon that knowledge of self-awareness one does I think come closer to doing the things one ought to do, rather than leaving them undone. It can at times be a bit of a losing battle but if one keeps on trying then in doing so we do I believe come closer to God. For it is in our trying to lead good lives that we come to know God better.
Yet, occasionally it can be the thing that distracts one from the task in hand that can lead one to discover something new or enable one to draw closer to God or loved ones. Guite ended his piece in the Church Times by saying:
"So, this morning, instead of tidying, I sat and half-read, half-remembered, half-recited, the whole glorious poem, and felt afresh that note of gentle energy, that power to savour every delight, because you know it is passing, and I looked through my study window at the blossom-laden boughs of this strange spring and closed that lovely little book still chanting..."
... and in the midst of it all was God.