I have a kind of running wish list going. For varying reasons. I think I have this perfected image of myself and the way I would like my life to be. I keep it up on the highest shelf in my brain, and bring it down occasionally to dust it off and tweak it a bit. All this happens in one flash of mental imagery; not quite so methodical as I made out.
So. Before you think I may need to call someone--
--here is my current list.
A well balanced Catholic life. Full of closeness to God. Discipline in devotional prayer and frequent mass and adoration. Accurate levels of conscience-induced discomfort and well thought out
examination of conscience. Regular confession. Living my Catholic life in an attractive, joyful way, so as to preach the gospel without words. Uncomplaining, unflinching service.
B. The reality.
Desperate prayers and muttered cries for help. Three Hail Marys in place of a whole Rosary. Plodding through my days looking frazzled and distracted. Grumbly, (at least on the inside), Oh-bother service.
On-the-go prayers. Reading of the Divine office, but skipping ahead to see how long it will be. Vague feeling of guilt. Watching TV in the evenings, or reading a book instead of doing an examination of conscience. Remembering sins after confession.
A. The ideal.
A smoothly run household with planned, healthy, meals, regularly cleaned, and no unidentifiable smells. No piles. Projects, once begun, completed quickly. No dust. No debt, and shaved down expenses.
B. The reality.
Everything gets done, but not before it absolutely has to. Or should have been, past tense. Meals range from all-homemade, yummy and mostly healthy, to store made, frozen, sandwiches, or pizza. The cycles go pretty much weekly.
A few times a week, I get out of bed to go look for some smell that floats up to my nose like Pepe Le Pew's scent trail. Usually, it's the litter box. But not always. Once is was a gas leak.
We are world class pile-makers. (No, don't go there, you know what I mean. Ew!) When the kids wash dishes, I often refer to the stack in the drainer as the leaning tower of Pisa. Or Dish-Jenga. And paper. I try to have receptacles for different items-- school papers, mail, etc. No dice. Now, we just have overflowing baskets with piles next to them. I follow people around, going, "do you need this?"
Our house accumulates dust in approximately four minutes. So, by the time I finish one room, the last one is dusty. Yes, I only spend four minutes dusting. What's the point?
As for expenses, too many overlapping services that are long on promise and short on delivery.
A. My Dream Home/surroundings.
An older, rustic-y home with large, open rooms. A professional kitchen with an island that doubles as an eating area. Enough bedrooms to double as guest rooms and office/music/whatever rooms. Enough bookcases. Being able to rent this home, so we will never have to replace a roof or a heating system, but still have freedom to paint and interiorly-design at will. And have whatever pets we want.
Attached to a working farm, or at least have a large enough parcel of land around the house to have a little green, people-less space. Space for gardening. Air that doesn't make you think there may be a toxic spill at the refinery. A little rectangle of space, all our own, that we can come home from a long day, or with a car load of groceries, and just pull into! If I remember correctly, some call it a PARKING SPACE. And if I wanted to get all elaborate in my wishing, then maybe even a GARAGE. whew! I wished so hard for that one I may have pulled something.
B. My actual house/surroundings.
An older, pretty spacious for a row home, row home. Mid-block. Nice size kitchen. One workable counter top area, that also happens to be in a corner, with the most-used dish cabinet above, and the coffee maker/toaster station there because of the outlet. This arrangement calls for ballet-like precision whenever there is more than one person cooking, getting dishes, or making coffee or toast. As a family, we are more along the lines of roller-derby than ballet. I have been talking about adding a small island, but so far, no.
We have a piano in our bedroom. Digital, but still.
Try as I might, stacks of books appear with no other feasible alternative. The dining room functions as a catch-all area, only getting really cleared out for parties or holiday dinners. Or the time Ben set his drums up in there to play music with friends on his birthday.Hardwood floors. Imagine the sound level. Neighbors, thankfully, did not call the police. His regular band plays in the basement.
Outside. We live on a bus route. A veritable parade of humanity passes two feet from our door all day and night. In back, there is about a six by twelve slab of cement with a one by twelve raised bed at one end. I do all I can with that area in spring and summer.
Hang laundry, plant whatever I can, try to sit out and read and sun. I say try, because the area is walled off on three sides, the fourth side is a chain link fence and our neighbors. Well. Just can't sit six feet from people in my bathing suit and feel comfortable. That's just me.
And, yes, there actually is a refinery not far away.
And those little rectangles for putting your car full of groceries or bags of bowling balls? Nada. Nope. Fugget it. At least not within shouting distance of the front door.
So, you get the gist. You may think I am complaining here. Not so! I love our house, with all it's idiosyncrasies. And if you want to extrapolate from there, you could include it's inhabitants, ahem. I love that we are close to all the culture, especially our connection to the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center. And, if we need medicine in the middle of the night, or cookies, they are readily available at a 24-hour store somewhere close. There are lots of conveniences, lots of really good people among the throngs and many, many churches. A rich history, and certainly lots of good food to be found. Some good schools. Good medical care.
I accept what God has given at this time. I accept the season of life. There are some parts that are harder than others, more to do with family living too far away, or family members in a time of suffering. We make our life as it is, as enjoyable as possible. But there is a certain pleasure to be had by dreaming of the scenarios I mentioned, that some part of me longs for. Especially being in the quiet of nature and having a little piece of land to putter around on.
I am a believer that God wants to fulfill at least some of our earthly desires, as long as they fit with His will for us. The whole asking for bread and not getting a stone thing. I don't believe in the gospel of prosperity, but I do believe in the gospel of God being a father who loves us. I thank Him so much every day for all He has given me, in spite of my poor attempts to serve Him. I mean that in the sense that my humanity is only capable of so much spiritual perfection, according to his grace. He loves our "poor" offerings, just as we love the noodle necklaces offered by our own children. Made with love, to the very best of their abilities.
I don't really consider this a problem. Just an extension of my inner person. Okay, so if my inner person is a tiny bit neurotic, God loves neurotics, too. If I learned anything at all from my Jesus Retreat experience, it's that it is okay to be on a journey, okay not to have 'arrived,' as long as I am going in the right direction.