Good Friday is a holiday where I work. I suppose that is true every year, but my first Good Friday working for Lenoir Rhyne University was about a month into the pandemic. Every last thing was weird, and I was distracted in ways I’ve never experienced, so I guess I didn’t really notice or remember that Good Friday is a holiday at LRU. I’m not used to Good Fridays off; after all, pastors are very “on” during Holy Week.
On Wednesday, someone said, “I’m so glad tomorrow is our Friday!” and I just thought they were off a day. After I heard it a couple of times, I realized we had Friday off. Fantastic!
On Thursday, we were notified that Monday would also be a day off. The university president told us to take Monday off because everyone has worked so diligently through the semester – without a spring break.
And that’s how a four-day weekend got dropped in my lap with no notice.
The “no notice” part is truly important to what I learned about myself this weekend.
You see, my brain is scattery. It’s really hard, actually. I don’t know how other people’s scattery brains work, but mine makes for a scattery house, too. On any given day there is laundry waiting in baskets and papers all over the dining room table. My car often feels like a storage unit, full of things I intended to take out and put away later…but forgot. I buy things I already own because I can’t remember that I own them…because I can’t remember where I put them. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” could be the title of my memoir. And ironically, something that is in my sight for too long kind of disappears. If the vacuum sits in the corner of the living room (not far from the TV I watch most nights) for long enough, I won’t really see it anymore and go looking for it upstairs. I scrub toilets and counter tops and vacuum regularly; my house is not dirty. But it is not tidy.
I know a tidy home is centered as desirable in our world.
I know this in my bones because it’s the thing about which I am most often drenched in shame. I’m deeply grateful we no longer drop by people’s homes unannounced because I would be devastated to open my door to you on any given day.
All of this is why every weekend, and especially every long weekend, I make grand plans to get my life together and gain control of my scattered stuff, which makes my scattered brain feel like it can rest a while. I tell myself that Saturday is reserved for housework, so Sunday is a day of rest. And seriously, any healthy, mobile person should be able to clean their house in a day, right? I mean, if you time the tasks (which I’ve done), they are so.incredibly.manageable. Swiffer the hard wood floors? 10 minutes tops. Vacuum the four carpeted rooms? 20 minutes, I suppose. Unload the dishwasher, 3 minutes. Load the dishwasher, 5 minutes. Wipe down counters, seriously like 2 minutes! Cycle laundry all the while, not hard or very time consuming.
But, Saturday comes and goes, and some of it is done – but never all of it.
Because while I was clearing the papers from the table, I found and reread a card from a friend, which made me go grab a card to write a quick note and get it in the mail. But, the address I need is in my phone…which has Facebook, so…
And so goes the day, in and out of productivity. In and out of shame.
This weekend was different, and I could not have planned it. Because if you told me ahead of time that I had 4 straight days, I would have perceived that as the gift of time to do a big project (plus my regular weekend housework). Planning out a four day weekend would include cleaning out the garage and car. It would mean putting back in order the mask-making-factory I have scattered around my upstairs craft room.
But, with no notice, four days stretched themselves out in front of me, and I used them the same way I use regular weekends – but this time there was space for the distractions.
The long and glorious weekend is over now, and looking back on the days, I am in love with them.
I scrubbed my bathroom and washed my sheets and comforter. Vacuumed everything and cleaned the kitchen. Every single sweater and fine washable that has been sitting in a basket for weeks and months is clean. I moved dozens of baby plants inside for a night of freeze and put them back in the bright sun during the day – twice. I even did my darned taxes! But, it’s the in-between-ness that was holy for me.
While I was cleaning the kitchen, I moved some spice jars from the counter back to the spice drawer. I remembered I was very low on my favorite Penzey’s spice blend called Chicago Steak Seasoning, and I opened my laptop to put it in my Penzey’s cart. But, then I realized, looking at the ingredients in the nearly empty jar in my hand, that I have all those individual spices from Penzey’s (the best spice company ever). So often, I have jars of spices for longer than they are likely still fresh, so maybe I should use them to make a steak seasoning blend.
This made me search for a steak seasoning blend recipe and mix it up. After making that seasoning blend, I decided to make an Italian Herb Seasoning blend, as I had all the single herbs for that, too. The one I found had all the spices/herbs found in the Penzey’s blend, plus crushed red pepper. Now, I don’t like much spice, but I liked that idea, so I reached for the red pepper powder my brother, James, had sent me from peppers he grew and processed last summer. It’s a mild red pepper, and I love it in small doses. As I measured a bit into the bowl with the basil, oregano, rosemary, etc., it occurred to me to send James a picture of it and tell him his red pepper powder has me thinking of him way far away in Southern California. I did so. He responded, and our short exchange made us happy. While doing each of these tasks, I wished I had a mortar and pestle for the dried rosemary. I have wished that before, so I returned to my laptop and searched for a mortar and pestle with good reviews – and I ordered it for myself for my birthday.
I cleaned up all the spice blending mess, labeled the freshly blended herbs and spices, and returned the spice jars to their drawer…where I saw the jar of candied ginger nibs I’ve been meaning to use up before they’ve been around too long. I decided to make Epicurious’ ginger/molasses cookies with candied ginger nibs in them (to die for!). After you mix them up, they have to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before baking, so I returned to my housework for a while.
Had I done all that spice blending and cookie baking (and cleaning back up!) on a normal Saturday, I would not have completed the housework I had planned. And I would have failed again.
But, this weekend, there was another day, and another.
So, maybe I don’t fail every Saturday.
Maybe I’m cramming creativity and productivity (another day we’ll talk about creativity actually BEING productivity) into the same space, and it’s too crowded. Maybe I’m not making room for my God-given scattery-ness which leads to a card in the mail to a friend, texting connection to my big brother, creating in the kitchen, buying myself a gift, and other random good things.
This scattery brain is mine. And I am the Lord’s. Amen.