Monday, June 15, 2009


Even I, an unregulated soul, recognize and value the benefits of routine, especially in the morning: get up, hop (still on one leg) to the pot, brush teeth, clean up, appear in the kitchen with sunny greetings for all, and settle in my (wheel)chair to sip some coffee, which my beloved, in his routine has placed before me. If I didn't have this routine, I would probably wander the house in my pajamas working on projects until it dawned on me to look in a mirror.

My beloved's routine is noteworthy, if one is prone to taking note: as he walks to the bathroom, he passes the laundry and tosses in a load; as he shaves, he collects all the garbage from the various wastebaskets and dumps it outside. While he makes my coffee, he scours the sinks and wipes the mirrors. All of this, within the first 1/2 hour of his day. I, for one, am in awe.

We once fostered a blind and deaf Great Dane mix named Helen, as in Keller. Once she was in any environment for one pass-through, she had the map engraved in her mind. The week she blessed me with her presence I had been doing planting of shrubs around the yard, and unlike my beloved, each empty plastic container stayed where I left it. Helen motivated around the yard like any other dog without the least bit of challenge, running, zipping, jumping over the pots like a gazelle. One day a storm blew the containers around, and the next morning, Helen was jumping through the air which caught my attention, I thought this was odd; but then I watched her smash into a strewn pot. I realized that her routine had momentarily changed. I picked up the pots and placed them in the garbage. She would still jump over the places they used to be. That part of her routine stayed engraved in her mind.

I mention this because my routine got a jolt today. I have developed speed paths through the house in my wheelchair -- maybe out of boredom, maybe out of human nature. I find I can go faster backward since I push off with my left foot. So after working in my study this morning, en route to the kitchen, I pushed of to propel myself backward through the living room, the propulsion is exactly the amount of force I need to come to a stop just before I hit the opposite wall of the living room, and here, I do a spin on a dime turn and propel myself through the dining area into the kitchen, with a final spin on a dime turn and land precisely at my spot at the kitchen table. Can you see that I have too much time on my hands?

As I propelled out of my study this morning, within a mere second I was jolted into a whiplashing stop, a terrible thud and I was stopped by an antique love seat. Wow, my calculations were way off. Fortunately I was home alone and I could fix any damage (shhhhh..) When I next encountered my beloved, he said, "Did you notice I made more room for you to work on your beads? (yes, I am making jewelry again.) I pushed the love seat about a foot further into the living room giving you more room in the dining area." Hmmm "Yes, thank you. I did notice," I said innocently.

Besides crashing backwards into antique loveseats, routine can block our noticing of other important facets in life: nuances of our dogs' behavior, the new growth on plants, the flock of butterflies stopping by for a visit, the shapes of clouds as they float by. If we forget to open ourselves up to the changes that exist in our lives each moment, we miss the unfolding of creation which is an ongoing process.

That's why Abraham Joshua Heschel suggests we step outside into nature to experience wonder and behold in awe.

That is why I say, there is a place for routine (it gets me out of my pajamas) and a place for wonder and beholding in awe. The latter should certainly be the largest part of my life -- O let it be so for us all.

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