Daily Bread

There’s a sweet spot between being totally adrift, and being owned by your to-do list, and lately I’ve been calling it my “daily bread.” The phrase comes from one of the most well-known prayers in the Christian faith, a pearl of simplicity among more lofty spiritual ideas. It speaks of contentment and trust, and the connection between heaven and earth. Lately, I’ve been thinking of it as an orientation to past and future, a posture of embracing what’s right in front of me.

In a way it’s cleansing, not in the physical “detox” sense, which would involve no bread, and therefore is something I’m not at all interested in, but in the spiritual and emotional sense. It’s a stripping off of old ways of thinking that weighed me down, and a letting go of the old questions I won’t ever have answers to. It’s peeling away the scratchy clatter of an over-analyzing mind with its never-ending mental math, sanding away the incessant worry about whether it all works out, smoothing out the ragged obsession with when and how.

It’s amazing how much energy I spend wondering where it’s all going. It’s like a hamster wheel. Run run run. Am I making the right choices? Doing the right things? Run run run. What if it doesn’t work out? What if it all goes wrong? Run run run. What will I do when this is over? Lots of energy, lots of stress, lots of anxiety. Very little forward movement.  Add to that the unrelenting nature of the modern to-do list, which seems to compound all of it because really, it takes a lot of energy to begin with, and when you’re putting in all that effort, how could you not wish life had that cheat-y little “check answers” button the Sudoku game has, so you could at least know you were on the right track? If only.

So I’m going to be really honest with you… I’m not handling it well.

The other night, I woke my hunny up in the middle of the night and told him I was too stressed to sleep. My heart was racing hard, which had happened once before and that time I wound up in the ER where they told me to chill out and drink less caffeine, which, while not entirely unhelpful, was not an experience I cared to repeat. So instead, I curled up next to him and focused on the warmth of his chest, the weight of his arm over me, the comfort of his head on mine. Just that one moment, nothing more. And you know what? It worked. My heart slowed down, my breathing came back to normal, and I fell back to sleep. The power of being present.  

There’s a great deal I can’t control right now, and it’s teaching me to go with the flow. I need this. I need to learn to lighten up, to not take everything so seriously. I’m already prioritizing madly and delegating like crazy, and so it becomes largely about grace, about being gentle with myself and not letting the weight of it all get to me. Some days I do better than others, but I think that’s why the idea of “daily bread” is so appealing to me right now. It’s like a reset. It takes all this pressure off.

You don’t need to have a “five-year plan” in order to live with intention and purpose. You don’t need to know how your story will work out in order to have hope. You don’t need to have big, lofty goals to live a big, brave, beautiful life. Do you feel freedom in that?

I do.

It could be that the future opens up the most when we’re the least concerned about it.

Daily bread. The theme is staying with me. It’s being satisfied in the here and now, satisfied with the next step, not needing the whole map. It looks like making dinner and tidying the kitchen, being  grateful that I have all I need, instead of worrying about tomorrow. It’s pausing and asking, really, what is the most important thing I can be doing right now? What do I need to be doing today? It’s being willing to come back to the same inspiration or the same wisdom, gathering that manna day after day until it settles in our bones. We’ll get there. Give it time.

Deep breaths.

One thing at a time.

Write it down.

Be honest.

Make time for the things that matter.

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