Do taxes. Build wattle fence. Write grant. Clear winter deadfall.  Repair gutters. Plant seedlings. Organize workshop. Mulch new herb garden. Pay bills. Clean chicken coop. Fix water pipe. Patch fence. Complete documentation report. Service rototiller. Dry oregano. Prep GFC boxes

…and for the love of God, vacuum.

The list is endless this time of year, and just staying ahead on it, much less shortening it, well, Dawn and I know it’s a pipedream.

Farm folk. City folk. Suburban folk. Young folk. Old folk. We all live such complex lives. Managing our time and just getting things done when they need to get done seems not only to drive us, but to define us. We tend to measure ourselves less on creativity and on the illusive ‘joy factor’ and more on outputs and production. Bing bang bong and fiddle dee dee.

Until, that is, we get broadsided. It took a recent hospital experience (nothing to worry about) and now subsequent season of recuperation to help me realize again two fundamental truths. First, the simple things really are what matter most. ‘To Do’ lists be damned. I feel hot water cascading down my body again. I see a welcome wag from dogs Kayla and Bodie. I can pee again, and walk again, slow and tenuous, but walking still. I feast on the visual banquet that is our home and the rite of Spring all around me. Piglets rooting. Swallows zooming. Rooster mounting. Food growing.  Take the simple things away for a while, and when they return you will appreciate them like you never have. Here I am reminded of the lyrics of a gorgeous old Shaker hymn:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Second, I realize that, in the end, creativity and joy will always outshine outputs and production. Bing bang bong, look what I did! As a child of my culture and times, I had embedded in me the importance of outputs. So let me say this again then, perhaps more as a declaration of intent than of fact: ‘To Do’ lists be damned. Intent being everything because of course slowing down, even if only for a stated season, will not come easily. To be ready to discover new dimensions of life in that place of slowness will be nothing less than a spiritual journey for me.

Farm folk. City folk. Take stock of the simple things, and say ‘thank you’. For the flowering apple tree. For the touch of another. For the clack of the raven in the cedar. For the moment when your whisper carries across the land. There is time enough to do. Right now it is time to sense the joy.