Simple Pleasures

Pulling an old draft from the archives – because it is still so applicable. 

This past week (back in May) was stressful on all fronts. I had been hoping to take a week off and go visit friends out of town and go to a friend’s ordination. Things at work are unraveling, too much work, too many deadlines, not enough reliable help. I can’t find a dog sitter. It is all just too much. So I sadly cancelled my travel plans and though I was super disappointed, I also realized that I get to choose how to respond. I can be bummed and let it ruin the next week for me, or I can embrace the hectic reality in my life and job right now and make the best of it. I choose the latter.

Of course in the midst of a lot of stress at work, two members of my parish died and were buried. The first, a mother of four young children, died of cancer. Her funeral was very moving. She was a woman of great faith and her funeral was gut wrenchingly sad and also full of hope. Seeing her family – her husband and kids- and thinking about the journey they are facing right now puts my own hardships into perspective. Seeing and hearing how she lived her life to the end gives me inspiration and fresh energy to look at what exactly Jesus is asking of me and to do it with renewed hope.

On Thursday night, a friend came over and we were just catching up and visiting. He asked if I was going to a soccer game and out afterward with a bunch of my (young and single) friends that weekend.

“Nope,” I heard myself say, “I’ve got a compost date with a friend.”

Which sounds like the lamest reason ever except that it isn’t. My friend and I had been planning on procuring a trailer load of compost to split between us for weeks and the stars had aligned and the trailer was available and by golly, I can’t think of a single thing I’d rather do on a gorgeous Friday evening than shovel dirt with one of my dearest friends.

Wow, I thought to myself, I am as old and boring as they come. … and strangely, I am completely at peace with that. I don’t need exciting outings and concerts and nights on the town. I am content with the simple (while complicated) life I’m building. Not to mention being thrilled to be sharing this journey with some of the best people I know. That is no small gift.

Saturday morning that same friend and I garage sale binged for the morning – finding some amazing deals on both of our lists (and something for my cousin and something for my brother from their lists). Booyah. It was a gorgeous morning to be out in the sunshine and with one of those people that just always makes my life better by her being in it. Again, glamorous? Nope. But absolutely delightful. Simple pleasures.

Sunday I went to my brother’s house after Mass. Had a lovely brunch and then changed into grubby clothes for some real fun. We installed the rose trellis for the climbing roses – my two year old nephew had the important job of handing me the screws “I tink you need another one!” He hands me a screw and then quickly backs up before I turn the scary drill on. We fixed a loose deck rail, and then we got to the real fun of the day — foundation repairs. Since neither of us had done it before, we checked out the problem, debated about the proper solution for awhile and then got started. We made a run to the Blue Store for supplies. My dad popped over and confirmed our solution was a good one (score!). And we spent the next couple hours hammering decaying cinder block pieces, mortaring new bricks into the holes, and chatting about life.

 You know what? I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not because the work was particularly glamorous, but because the company was terrific. In my recent pondering about friendships and what intentional community looks like, I keep coming back to this: Intentional community is looking for ways to share in each other’s details. Fixing foundations, hauling compost, picking up sticks, being real about the struggles we face, and sharing a lot of life and laughter in between rather than bemoaning a life full of details and responsibility.

I am so thankful for the gift of sharing time with the people I love and I find that the more I embrace that, the more richly I am blessed in these simple pleasures.


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