Surrounded by stacks of papers, I write to escape. I’ll do almost anything to avoid paperwork. And yet, guilt from the ingrained standards and example of my Norwegian mother and a perfectionist father leave me feeling guilty, but not enough to keep sorting. My bent is to create, which sounds lofty unless one must pick up after me. I’m prone to interrupt a current project with something new that catches my fancy.
Which leads me to a letter I unearthed from Sam Schreiner. Long ago Sam and I co-directed orientation for new students at Gordon College. We were an unlikely duo. Opposites. But we formed a formidable team, like Jud and I. But I digress. So back to his letter from 1980.
Sam’s letter arrived on my cluttered desk after we’d met earlier to finalize the schedule for orientation weekend. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” is more than a phrase from a hymn, when it comes to my life. Judging by Sam’s thoughtful letter, it appears I resisted closure. Again. Come to think of it, when Jud and I married, it’s a wonder I said, “I do“, instead of “Perhaps. ” (Did Jud just laugh?) Well, back to Sam. He wrote the following after I’d suggested bringing a troupe of jugglers to campus as part of orientation.
“I really have no objection to this but I do have a suggestion, for you, Jan. You’ll save us a lot of ulcers if we call the planning done and work on the implementation. It is fun to come up with new ideas but each new idea brings with it more loose ends to tie up–and we have quite of few of these already. Just a piece of friendly advice. Go with your instincts on this, Jan. I’m with you. Your friend and co-worker, Sam”
Well, while the jugglers ended up coming, Sam’s advice tempered me, as Jud’s often did. And Sam and I remain friends, even in public. As an INFP on the Myers-Briggs I’m prone to loose ends, as in endless possibilities, which create trails of paper for others and eventually for me. Is it any wonder that on my refrigerator I have a quote from A.A. Milne. “One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” Like Sam’s letter.
So today marks the twentieth day of 2022. I’ve given up making New Year’s resolutions. They’re like today’s to-do list, by evening I’ll rework it for a another go tomorrow. But I do resolve to leave behind less paper, give fewer ulcers, tie up more loose ends and stay teachable to those who love me enough to give just a piece of friendly advice. They sometimes come like an epiphany.
Which circles me back to Epiphany evening, when we gathered around the table in California. It was a sweet time of reflecting, eating special food and enjoying Lily’s version of an almond bread, akin to one served in France on this occasion. Luke read the story of the Magi from the Bible and Basil a poem he’d written. As we peered into the year ahead, I read a quote from Henry David Thoreau.
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Well, consider this Just a piece of friendly advice.
Thanks, Sam, and to all of you who read, respond and nudge me to keep teachable and go paper-less.
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Bless you, for not mentioning the Dean of Students who had to put with both you and Sam! 🙂
Well,, dear former Dean of Students who hired me and Sam, thank you. That took almost as much faith as it did for Jud to ask for my hand and all that came with it, then honor those vows for more than 51 years. Miss having you and Judy in the “hood.”
This is neither is a revelation to me, although I appreciate your “transparency” – strange word – nor is it a self-discovery for you. You are too self-aware. What I think you have acknowledged is the value of different gifts. In fact, if you and I were the same one of us (I would lose on that one) would be unnecessary! I probably should not tell you this but my birthday (day of month only) really is not June 2. I just say that so you will remember me over the summer. 🙂
Love you sister. Dale
As for us sharing the same birth date, NOT YEAR, it does help me remember your birthday, even though I am usually late with the card, if one comes. Unlike Marty, who has never missed my birthday. If she did, I’d be convinced I must have the date wrong. About forgetting you, I could not, dear brother. I’ve tried.(I hope you’re laughing.) And yes, I’m grateful for the variety of gifts God’s scattered among us. Keeps friendships and marriages interesting and life purposeful and adventuresome. I know you’re a TJ, like Jud, and probably Sam, on the Myers-Briggs. I’d have floundered without the boundaries, deadlines and friendly advice a kind- hearted TJ provides(Hmm, is that an oxymoron?). And balking, while not a gift, is another of my bents. Thanks for hanging in with me.
Your writing I always find delightful… you infuse me with epiphany’s every time I read your postings.
For me you are a literary Aunt I look forward to hearing from.
I am almost 68, and never listened to anyone’s advice…a stubborn narrow sighted Leo.
All my older relatives ( aunts, uncles, and parents)
are long gone.
I have one older sister that I am finally very good friends with. I love her dearly
Come to think of it, your writing styles are very similar.
Thanks so much for writing about the important things that you do, and expanding both my conscience and consciousness..
Well, thank you Nick. I am honored to be anyone’s literary Aunt. It’s encouraging to read that you and your older sister have become “very good friends.” I’m happy for both of you. The challenges of growing older are lessened with the company of good friends and even one caring or humorous family member. Each morning I connect with Dean Robert and morning prayers at the Canterbury Cathedral. Dean Robert often speaks of the respect and love he has for his older sister, Pauline. She died in 2020 but her imprint on his life encourages and informs the rest of us who listen in and learn each day as part of the “garden congregation.” It’s been a lifesaver for me during the pandemic.I connect through YouTube. May God show up in some unique way today to encourage you on your journey. As your “literary aunt”, if you like mysteries, I encourage you to read Louise Penny’s books. That and tuning in to Dean Robert are two pieces of “friendly advice.”
I am so thankful that God made you just the way you are. If you were too worried about all that paperwork and did it first, you might not get around to writing to us. And that would be so sad. Maybe writing is just what God wants you to be doing and you just happen to enjoy it. A win-win for your readers.
“The Hungry Heart” has been so delightful for January. Your “question” at the end of each writing is always spot on.
Hope the big winter storm will not impact your community too harshly. Watching it snow can be a very peaceful, delightful experience. I pray you have warmth, enjoy a good cup of beverage and know you are wrapped in big hugs and prayers today.
Thank you, dear Toni. Writing gives me deep joy and I’m so grateful to learn it encourages others, like you. The storm’s not hit, yet, but folks are busy preparing. It heat and power stay on, it can be exciting to watch a storm . Thank you for your hugs and prayers. Perhaps I’ll write about it. January’s a good month to ask questions. Happy to read you’re finding the ones in the Hungry Heart helpful.
I love being an INFP! The book Creative You describes the NP type: as “an endless lightning storm of ideas, but the bolts don’t often strike the ground.”!
Enjoy being who you are. Me, too.