CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
Is there something still to do today, something I may have forgotten?
I lived with that nagging thought for forty years of work. The answer was always Yes! There was always something more to do. I had not necessarily forgotten it. I might have been better off if I could forget it. There was never a day when I did not leave something undone, just because there was too much to do. There was always that nagging feeling of things undone.
That feeling is still there, even though it’s usually wrong. Well, not absolutely. There is always something more I could do–write a letter, weed a flowerbed, sweep out the garage. But those are not things that must be done, certainly not right away. They’ll still be there tomorrow, and it’s okay if they’re still there tomorrow.
They don’t feel okay, though. They feel the same as when I did not get a call made at the nursing home or did not get the fundraising plan for the homeless shelter finished.
When you are used to being nagged by things undone, the feeling remains the same, even though the things undone are much less important.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old question about where a nine hundred pound gorilla sleeps: any place it wants to! In business it is said about the CEO, in politics it is said about the president or governor, in churches it is said about the bishop: He, or she, is the gorilla.
Bishop Leroy Hodapp was adept at using gorilla status for good. During meetings, he would write letters, by hand, in green ink, with a fountain pen–not a ballpoint, while listening to the business with one ear. If you are not the gorilla, you can’t get away with that. But Leroy was the gorilla, and a total multi-tasker, and he got everything done, on time. Until he retired.
He and I were on our way to a basketball practice [watching, not playing!] one day when I thanked him for his Christmas card. It had just come. It was February. He laughed and said: “When I was a bishop, I had to get everything done, today, because there would be no time for it tomorrow. Now, I look at tomorrow’s schedule and say, Oh, there will be time for that then. So I don’t get it done today or tomorrow, either one.”
“Doesn’t it bother you, that nagging feeling, the feeling there is something you’re supposed to be doing?” I asked him.
“No,” he said. “When I was working, I did what I was supposed to do. Now that I’m retired, I’m still doing what I’m supposed to do, except now I’m supposed to go to basketball games and put off writing Christmas cards.”
When the nagging feeling comes, that feeling that developed back when, I try to remember who I am now, not who I was back then. I don’t have to live with the naggers from back when, because I’m not the person I was then. Now, I’m the gorilla. Gorillas take a nap, wherever they want to, and clean out the gutters tomorrow.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where people are Yoopers [UPers] and life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
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I tweet, occasionally, as yooper1721