(written March 11, 2020)
As I became a flirtatious teenager, I began referring to myself as decorative, reciting:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…Matthew 6:28b, NKJV
It was meant to be backspin on an array of things, all at once. On a stereotype of women as decorative, which was officially no longer acceptable. On how, as I aligned myself with the lilies, I was doing — as we had been taught in Scripture study! — faithful action: that is, not worrying about the future… though I was even then pushing since I was, more accurately, being idle and letting others do-for me. Like the lilies in a garden.
And it also clipped in to my claiming my poet-self. The wider world said (says) that poems, and so poem-makers, are extras. Frivolous. They make neither money nor (for the most part) what are referred to by economists as goods. Very well then. If what I am compelled to offer is not useful, then I will plant my feet and claim I’m use-less.
I’m working on my new practice. I remind myself: this ten minutes is not a time-box for plans — at least, not for building the map of the day, or sketching the arc of points for my next school-paper. It’s still a time when, if a to-do sidles in, that to-do is quickly scratched on a scrap so we both know it’s not ignored.
Neither is it to be emptied of sequential thought — which is turning out to be trickier. After straining so hard after contemplative disciplines of thought-less-ness, to ::start a timer – sit – hold quiet:: feels like the other practice. I feel myself think, dismiss, and turn back with an: oh yeah, if I want, I can follow!
It’s no coincidence I’ve been writing here more frequently.
After all, isn’t that what I built this for? A space where I make for my own interest and pleasure things that are not, per se, useful or instrumental,
and neither are they as stripped-to-essence as the wind — “You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going…” (John 3:8b).
Neither useful nor useless. Important: holding significance or value. And, probably, for me essential like breath is essential—doesn’t matter where it comes from, how it goes, or that anyone notices.
Just that it reliably happens, so that the other good things happen, too.