I find myself opening a drawer full of long neglected junk: some trash, some treasure, some pencil numbs and safety pins – small items tucked away instead of cleaned or organized, lost to usefulness by neglect.
This is my soul, oh Holy One, and I am tired of the mess.
But as I sit here on the floor, with the contents of my drawer spread out before me, I hardly know where to start. I put the pencils in one pile and the safety pins in another. I pile the old grocery lists and notes in a stack for the trash. I wipe the edges of the drawer, gathering up all the little specks of dirt and debris and shaking them into the trash, as well.
Now, before me, a clean drawer . . . and stacks of stuff that still are disarray. If I put them all back in, they become organized junk, but still junk, still unlikely to find usefulness. If I take the time to find them each a useful home . . . it seems a waste of time, which may be a more valuable commodity than the pencil nubs.
Yet there is something about the clean drawer that pushes me a bit further.
What does this parable say?
Is life about organizing drawers?
Am I off on some mind-tangent that will keep me from focusing on you for just a bit longer?
Or is there value in this little work?
Then I notice you.
How long have you been sitting beside me on this floor?
So quiet, your coming;
So ephemeral your presence;
So almost, not-quite, there.
If I sit a bit more still can I see you more clearly?
I pick up a pencil nub and slide it over in front of you, as if to ask the question that I can’t quite put into words . . . what use is this – what use am I?
For, indeed, I am that nub: used, scruffy, little left.
You pick it up and take it to your lips.
The gesture is a bit of a kiss, and a bit of the pursed, contemplation of an author who licks the tip of the pencil as she starts to write.
You pull out a piece of paper from a stack upon the floor. It is creased a bit, with folded, dirty edges. I would have thrown it away. You find a small book to support the paper as you write:
Those are the words you write
I look to see if you are looking at me . . not sure of this message, but you are still studying the paper and the pencil. You peel away a bit of wood that hides the pencil lead so it can better write.
Then, in bolder letters, you write again
no moment of your day
no effort to connect
You take, you bless my intentions, my small acts.
Is that what you would say to me today?
no molecule in space,
no jolt of energy
the conservation of matter and energy is a foundation of the universe
one lamb among the ninety nine
sand in the hourglass
hopes that are delayed until their echo fades
my hope – or perhaps no longer even that strong – my wish for you
not lost, not lost
my silly, nubby self
not lost – but in the hand of the Holy One,
set to write a word of hope to those close to me, in my small drawer.
that sounds good to me.
10 9 09