We had to get a new dishwasher a few weeks ago. So far the only down side to this is the big hole it left in our “for the house” savings account. But since the previous dishwasher had been on its last legs for almost a year anyway, we had been saving. There is no debt this time.
The new dishwasher seems to be the same size on the inside, but somehow they’ve designed it so effectively that it holds many more dishes than the last one. In fact, it holds so many more dishes that we are routinely running out of bowls or spoons or large or small plates or all of the above before we run it again.
This morning it was bowls. So I had to giggle when my husband came out of the kitchen munching on his cereal from one of our “fancy” ice cream bowls. Now fancy is in quotation marks because they are not lined with gold or anything. They’re just the bowls we received as wedding gifts that we rarely use. We’re much more likely to pull out the old, chipped ones from both of our parents’ giveaways when we moved into our own places, maybe ones that THEY received as wedding gifts!
But we do love our ice cream bowls. They are colorful with fun scalloped edges. And, of course, they remind us of ice cream. What’s not to love?
My husband has been going through a bit of a rough patch lately, so when I commented on his having “ice cream” for breakfast, he responded that this was his morning self-care – pretending Raisin Bran is ice cream is bound to make anyone happier.
I was reminded of the wedding gift towels that my mother never used because they were for a special occasion. When she passed away and I had to go through the house we discovered that the “nice” towels were all but destroyed with the ravages of time; no one had enjoyed the special occasion.
When I started writing again, I pulled out Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life for inspiration. This quote struck home and I wrote it in my journal. It strikes home in the spiritual life and the life of wedding gifts as well:
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later piece in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly is lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
I am at heart a saver, a conservationist – I do not want my things to get broken or dilapidated or even to look old. My games must have all their pieces and they all must be put away as if the box had never been opened. The nice bowls must be babied – until recently I wouldn’t let the ice cream bowls be put in the dishwasher. Plastic bags are washed out and reused. There is good in this, using and reusing, keeping things nice is better than being wasteful. But it causes me to panic when something falls and breaks, is lost, or Heaven forbid the dog chews it up.
And then I had to throw away Mom’s good towels. And I saw how something good can be taken so far as to be bad. As I examined my life I saw this tendency to take the good so far it was bad in every aspect of my life – including my spiritual life. Can you save up your prayers for bedtime and miss the chance to commune with the Divine at 10:22 am? Can you worry so much about being hurt that you forget that God must break our hard hearts open for a chance to get in?
We put the fancy ice cream bowls on a high shelf that I cannot easily reach. This seemed like a good idea since we use them so rarely. Maybe I need to move them down for those days when I need a bowl of self-care. I can pretend my Raisin Bran is ice cream – or maybe I can just have a big bowl of ice cream for breakfast. Yum!
Do you have “good” things set aside for a special time? Are you worried they might go bad before you can use them? How might you apply Annie Dillard’s quote to something happening in your life – does it feel much bigger than writing to you? What are some ”fancy” things in your life that make you feel happy when you think about them or use them? What might you be saving up in our spiritual life that you could “spend” now for your own or others’ care?
After you’ve had a bowl of ice cream – or whatever makes you happy, look into Openings: Let the Spirit In for more ways to care for yourself. There will be a retreat on prayer practices April 20-21 in Rincon, GA that you will not want to miss. If you can’t come to Georgia, contact us for information on bringing a retreat to you.