As I prepare to go about my work today,
may my intention to live in your present moment
be the pattern for this day and my life.
With your help, may I forever do
only one thing at a time–
always in communion with you, my Beloved,
with all my heart and mind and soul.
~Modern prayer by Edward Hays, USA
When I began my training as a teacher, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was how to give a young child directions. Often teachers and parents get frustrated because we expect young children to follow long sentences overflowing with multiple commandments. We like to string together a bunch of words and expect children to follow through the first time–“Put your shoes on, grab your backpack, and meet me at the car.” Usually, by the time the child
has processed “put your shoes on,” we are crying out in frustration, “Why are you not at the car?!” Everyone ends up feeling chaotic and overwhelmed, and rarely is anything accomplished effectively.
As adults, we seem to clutter our lives with multi-step directions or multi-tasking. I will admit that I am often tempted to try to make a phone call and write an email at the same time or wash the dishes while cooking dinner while helping Hayley with her homework. What usually happens is that none of the tasks are completed satisfactorily. I end up having to go back and fix something, and I probably used more time than it would have taken to do complete each job individually.
Mindfulness. It is not a practice that many of us ascribe to regularly. Simplicity. It is not a lifestyle that many of us adopt readily. Sometimes, I think we are afraid to focus on one activity at a time because it opens our hearts and spirits to thinking about other issues, issues that may be challenging emotionally or spiritually. Instead, we distract ourselves by doing, doing, doing, and in the process, we wear ourselves out, lose track of who we are, and move farther away from those things that are important to us.
My hope for us today is that we slow down–that we follow one-step directions for our lives. Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Love. Work. Play. Share. Exercise. Pray. Most importantly, I pray that when we engage in these activities, we do one thing at a time with all our heart and mind and soul.