Last week at this time, I was focused intently on the one square foot of land beneath my feet that changed with each step that I took, drawing closer and closer to the goal of the end of Peter’s Mountain on our Appalachian Camino hike. It was a focus that was necessary as my hiking party and I traversed the section of the trail in our diocese, otherwise known as “Rocksylvania.” Ironic, a little, that we were out in the wilds to enjoy the grandeur and beauty of nature… and just staying upright required careful and sustained focus on the ground just in front of us. Hiking this way over a period of days, one learns to stop from time to time to look up and take a swig of water, but for the most part, the view is limited: this rock, that root, this rock, that patch of dirt. Focus.
Today, I am focused on a day that has finally arrived, after 9 months in the waiting. It is the due date for our daughter and son-in-law’s first baby. “Cumberbatch” (not his real name, I hope) is due today- on the 4thof July- and as I pad around the house getting my suitcase ready for our trip to greet him, I keep an eagle eye on my phone- just in case I missed a text or phone call.
I googled “What percentage of babies are born on their due date?” and discovered that it is 1 out of 100. That seems pretty low. I read through the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer on the Thanksgiving for a Child and for the Gift of Children and for Family Life. There are no prayers in the BCP for a woman in labor. I had no reason to know this, until now. During my own three labors I was not interested in perusing the BCP, but now, as expectant Grandmother, it seems to be a great deficiency in our prayer book. Focus. That’s where I’m at, today. On little Cumberbatch- and my first baby, having a baby of her own.
When I came off of the trail last week, my cheeks burned with embarrassment when I called up my usual social media sites and found a hullaballoo about the disgrace of the conditions of the immigration detention centers on our southern borders. I saw a shocking and terrible photograph of a dead father and child, face down in the water, having met their demise in their attempt to gain sanctuary and safety. I read about significant debates in the political arena that had taken place while I was hiking. I discovered that our President had invited Kim Jong-Un via a Twitter post for a photo op just over the border in North Korea and a conversation to follow in the demilitarized zone. The world had not stopped spinning while I was hiking, nor will it stop as I step (any moment now), into a new role as adoring grandmother. But I will be focused on the great excitement of a new child, as this “new thing” changes our/my world.
There is a gift of focus. It allows for truly “being in the room.” Last week I was invited to join a “learning community” sponsored by the Episcopal Church to assist with diocesan development. One of the first requirements was that I agree to “be in the room.” Seriously? That’s my jam. No texting, no checking Facebook, no reading emails during meetings. Focus.
And, there is a gift of multi-tasking. Being able to tend to one business item while making a note about another, while cooking dinner, planning next week’s sermon, and listening to Jeopardy! in the background. The older that I get, the more difficult that is. Oh, I can do it… but the quality of the work and my ability to remember what I said, wrote, texted, planned to preach? Not so much.
So, today, I focus. On the imminent arrival of a wee one. I will blanket that baby’s arrival in prayer, and good thoughts, and hearty expectation.
What holy thing has captured your attention this day?
And how are you tending to it?