Spinning

My cousin in Omaha complained that one day this week it was seventy degrees, but the next day it was cold and snowy. Weather reports from all over the country seemed to have had the same extreme fluctuations. This is indicative, not only of the weather, but of my life this week.     Everything in I experienced this week was in small fragments. Two hours working at one school, three at another and days later another four hours made everything seem disjointed. The other days consisted of such varied events as being shadowed by a high school senior working on a school project, cleaning out closets, visiting a plant nursery with friends and making Peeps for my grandsons’ Easter baskets. Of course, the only thing on my original “To Do” list was making the multicolored marshmallow chickens. Most of the time, I felt like I was simply fighting to get anything accomplished.

It reminded me of a visit I made to a spillway when I was in high school. A gravel road lead to a small concrete dam that was part of an irrigation system in the middle of the flat—and I do mean really flat—lands of South Dakota. As I leaned over the steel-bar railing and gazed into the water, I noticed a piece of wood about eighteen-inches long and about six-inches thick that was stuck directly under the spillway. It had been spun around in circles so long that its corners had worn away and it looked as if it had a finely sanded surface. As I watched it,

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This is a favorite place at the Oregon coast. The ocean waves spin rocks, shells, and driftwood to wear them away, just like the dam spillway in South Dakota.

mesmerized by its whirling in the rushing cascade of water, I remember praying, “God please keep me from spending my life spinning in circles like that piece of wood. Help me to accomplish something with my life and not be useless and slowly vanishing under life’s pressures.”

On our recent trip to South Dakota, we passed the sign pointing to the entrance to that dam. Memories rushed back from that experience, as a fifteen-year-old and I looked back over my life to see if God had answered my youthful prayer.I am glad that one day, or even one week, does not a life make. There have been many weeks like this one where nothing of significance seemed to happen. Yet, even this week, I had some wonderful conversations about deep relationship issues with the two young women who live with us and made some steps toward getting into better physical shape. (We joined the YMCA with hopes that exercise and swimming may help out physically. Although I viewed the racketball courts with grand memories of days gone by, I think the rackets and eye goggles we have will only be used by the younger members of our household.) I also lead a class discussion about important spiritual issues with a terrific group of women and had an outing with friends. The acts may have been disjointed, but they were important.

It is the cumulative effect of day to day living that gauges whether or not anything gets accomplished. There is a Psalm that talks about the futileness of thinking you have to work night and day without rest. It states that God gives us the result of our work even in our sleep. I’ve often puzzled over this idea. As I look at my daily list of things to accomplish I don’t see them happening while I’m unconscious with sleep. But one day I realized the Psalm is talking about a much larger picture. I invest my life into my daughter, into the people I teach or into those I meet on a regular basis. As I mentor them, they in turn grow to guide others. I realized that there is a growing list of people who are part of the chain of growth of which I am just a link. People shaped by contact with me are shaping the lives of others who in turn are affecting others. This is happening in time zones all over the world, which makes that Psalm literally true.

My week may have seemed as crazy as the weather, but I can still take a lesson from it. It may be cool and rainy, but summer will come, if I just give it time. As I keep investing in others, eventually someone’s life will change and that cycle will reproduce itself.      So instead of berating myself for not reaching all my goals for the week, I will relish the things that did happen and wake up in the mornings looking for the joys of watching the chain continue.