This morning I've been pondering finishing things. I think this is what Christine Kane, a great creativity mentor, calls "completion". Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, believes it contributes to your happiness.
It seems to me that my small family and I tend to be a bit sloppy about finishing things. We vacuum a room and leave the vacuum cleaner out. We fill the grossest pot from dinner with hot soapy water, then leave it in the kitchen sink 'til morning when it then requires a whole new batch of hot soapy water to complete the job. One of us will use the stapler or the scotch tape or (ahem) my best kitchen scissors and not return said objects to their usual resting place.
With the vacuum, sometimes I like to think the left out vacuum cleaner is a kind of merit badge (as if the clean rug and floor wouldn't be badge enough?), or like a poster announcing to the people who pass through the room (usually Anna's friends) that at least we do use the vacuum now and then! And maybe it's because this house is so slim on closet space (as David's mother warned us before we bought it) that the vacuum cleaner really has no suitable resting place. (That's stretching the truth a bit, but not by much.)
Maybe it's because David and I are both youngest children, and somebody always picked up after us. Or maybe it's because, in our twenty-two-plus years as parish clergy (that's forty-four-plus years combined), nothing is every finished. Or at least it feels that way.
You finish a sermon or a Sunday morning liturgy, and immediately the deadline for the next one is on the horizon. You finish a liturgical season, like Lent, and without a break, you're at Easter, and Easter's fifty days lead to Pentecost, and then the feast day you'd rather skip over, Trinity Sunday, and then the seemingly endless stretch of Sundays after Pentecost, Sundays that get designated by a strange number "after Pentecost" determined by where Easter actually fell on the calendar in the particular year in question. People and families, the members of your congregation, are never finished either, because the flow of life is never finished, except one life at a time.
I suppose lots of kinds of work have no real end (or your job would end!). At least a year of teaching school comes to an end, one set of students moves on, and you get some summer vacation before starting again.
I have a feeling our non-finishing of things can't be blamed on any one particular facet of who we are or the limitations of our house's storage space. So I have decided to take on a gentle experiment--that is, to do my best to watch and pay attention to what I finish and what I don't; and then to do my best to watch and pay attention to what it's like if I deliberately finish more things, those that are in my power to finish. Like washing out my breakfast oatmeal pot before I start my day's work.
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