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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Distracted

"Have you been writing like crazy?"  A friend asked me this a few days ago.

Um, no.

I've been distracted lately.  By many good things.

In less than a month, I'll be in Chicago, a few days into a month of Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) training.  The training is preparation for work as a human rights monitor and accompanier in Palestine, Iraq, or Colombia.  At this point, I do not know where I'll end up working, when I'll leave, or how long I'll be in one of those places.  I trust that when I need to know, I'll know.

Between now and the time I leave for Chicago, I have a long to-do list.  I'm back to fund-raising for CPT.  I've been making more card sets and have branched out into home-made Christmas cards.  The Christmas card-making began one day when I was feeling glum and needed something to lift my spirit.  Amazing how cutting and pasting, making something new, can do that.  The cards have been fun to make and have gone over well where I've sold them.

I have a writing workshop and a retreat to write.  I also plan to write and promote several talks and other workshops for schools, churches, and other communities.  Writing these brings new and unexpected challenges - the best kind, ones that will stretch me and, if done well, will stretch others to do better and be better.  I had the great privilege to give a talk to middle schoolers about India a few days ago.  I hope to do more such talks.  Thinking about and planning these talks, workshops, and retreats get me back into education-mode.  Educating is in my bones.

My "home" study.  I am gathering answers, testimonies, stories, poems, about what home means to different people.  If you're interested in thinking about "home," click on the link above.  I'd love to know your thoughts. As I think about the idea more, I realize the vastness of its potential.  What does "home" mean to someone who's homeless? An immigrant? A refugee? A soldier? I can't wait to find out.

Then there's Christmas. I decorated my house over the last few days.  It feels particularly festive to do so this year, because last year, Advent and Christmas both passed without much fanfare.  I spent Christmas Day with Sikh friends in India, as wedding preparations and festivities happened around me.  The only indications of Christmas were the molasses crinkle cookies my mom sent to me (thanks, Mom!) and a phone call with my family.

All of the above have occupied me and distracted me from writing.  And then...

In less than 3 months, I turn 40. Seeing the number as I type and realizing it'll soon attach itself to me is a little strange.  However, 39 has been good to me, 38 too, so I'll try to keep moving in whatever direction I'm supposed to move and trust that, even if it's not all OK, it'll all be OK.  The notion of turning 40 doesn't distract me in the same way that the above activities do, but it does give me pause.

The milestone invites me to consider the worth of what I'm doing these days.  Am I using my time in a way that honors me, my gifts, other people? I hope so.  I'm trying.  Are the things distracting me from writing, which I call one of my primary goals right now, worth my time?

As I think about that question, the answer seems to be yes.  It is worth my time to engage in creative expression.  The process nourishes my soul and the products feed the spirits of others.  It is worth my time to use my love for education - whether the head-learning or heart-learning varieties - to try to plant seeds of the same in others.  If we're learning, we're growing.  I hope to encourage growth in myself and others as long as I'm alive.  It is worth my time to think about "home."  It is a vitally important notion that shapes who we are and how we live and I hope my exploration will naturally take me back to my stated goal of writing. It is worth it to celebrate this time, to live in the Advent season of waiting, of expectation, of hope, to feel what these mean in my own life that is pregnant with possibilities both known and unknown.

And so I realize: maybe the distractions aren't distractions at all.  Maybe they're the real stuff I need to be paying attention to.


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