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Posts Tagged ‘Surrender’

What Are You Doing?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Twenty years ago I traveled to the Bahamas to volunteer for two weeks to help rebuild a library and assist with various clean-up projects.  I joked with friends that if God asks me to do service work in the Bahamas, who am I to deny the call? I traveled with two college staff and seven other students. We were asked to bring extra canned goods with us as we were going to work in a “poor” section of the Bahamas. I filled one duffel bag with peanut butter and jars of grape jelly. When I arrived at the volunteer center, I unpacked my turquoise duffel bag and found that a large glass jar of grape jelly had broken and my clothes were covered in broken glass and jelly. I started to clean the sticky bag and then I just lost it – I started crying. My bag was a mess and I thought the jelly would never come out so I threw the whole bag in the garbage – clothes and all. My friends told me they would help clean it out, but I told them to forget it and just tossed the duffel bag in the garbage. The next morning I woke up early to find my bag by my bed, all clean and saw that my t-shirts and socks had been rinsed out and were drying on a line outside. No one said anything about the jelly jar meltdown and we spent the next two weeks painting, cleaning, and playing with children.

I was reminded of this story last week after making dinner for myself (which is very rare). I began making food and then half of my dinner spilled on the floor. I exhaled exasperated and started to throw the rest of my dinner in the garbage. I stopped and asked myself, “What are you doing?” I slowly cleaned up the spilled food, fixed my plate, and sat quietly eating my dinner.

There are so many moments that I am unconscious of how I am reacting or responding. I realize when I am exhausted and have little reserve that I just give up. There have been hundreds of times throughout the last twenty years when I have had the “broken jelly jar moment” and wonder what other ways I have responded. Am I willing to allow difficult moments to occur and not let them overtake me? Can I pay more attention to what I am doing and how I am being?

What is your broken jelly jar story and how do you respond? I am grateful I spilled my dinner last week and that the MTA had signal problems because it allowed me to dig deeper into my internal resources and ask myself, “What are you doing?”

Mary Anne

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