“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maude Montgomery
In chapter two of Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren writes, “The crucible of our formation is the monotony of our daily routines.” In chapter one, she quotes Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Does the truth of these ideas make anyone else quake? Seriously, it feels like so much pressure!
Some of my fellow Sacred Everyday bloggers have posted this week about changes they’ve made or want to make in response to the ideas Tish puts forth in chapter 2. (Yes, Tish and I are still on a first-name basis.) Like Katie, I bought a regular old-fashioned alarm clock this week; goodbye to my iPhone sharing my pillow! Like John, I am listening differently when my fitness-tracker beeps. Engaging with the convictions we feel from this conversation is awesome. We’re only on week two I’m already thinking in new ways.
But something is weighing on me.
I once took a class that introduced, among many other things that I no longer remember, the concept of existential guilt, an idea that resonated so deeply in my person I can clearly remember the Ping! of yes-ness as I came to understand the meaning. That is, as a feeling of guilt – in me, breathlessness, anxiety, sorrow – that stems from a deep fear of not living up to one’s full potential. For those of us working to throw off the heavy mantle of perfectionism, facing up to the truth that what we choose to do forms us is akin to coming eye-to-eye with a charging bull.
Ok, phew. (Takes a deep, calming breath. Closes eyes. Centers.) But, there is that lesson from last week to add to the equation. That is: grace.
Thank God for grace. I mean, really. Thank you, God.
Into this mix of the importance of doing what I want to be – trying to live into my desire to, every day, take a long walk and pray and write and be present with the people I love – of creating liturgies of daily life that reflect the woman I want to be, I have to remind myself to allow plenty of room for grace to step on in.
Routine is important. It does matter. I want to be mindful of mine. I am making changes.
I also aim to go slow. To be kind. To remind myself that my God is a God of forgiveness and space. Tish says, “Our hearts and loves are shaped by what we do again and again and again.” There is a softness to this change; it doesn’t happen over night. It’s not easy or fast; it’s not created by harsh rules. It involves forgiveness and acceptance. “The work of repentance and faith,” Tish writes, “is daily and repetitive. Again and again, we repent and believe.”
So, here I am reminding myself that attention, not perfection, is the goal. I’m not in this for ideal symmetry and zero mistakes. The long haul is about trying and failing, forgiveness and grace. I’ll do my best today and start over tomorrow, fresh and focused and maybe even a little bit hopeful.