And as with so many other neat illustrations, when the metaphorical rubber hits the road and actual decision making is involved -- choosing among many good things that cannot all possibly fit into the jar -- that road can feel pretty bumpy.
We're in major transition right now, in one sense fitting neatly back into a life that looks much like the one we left -- our Classical Conversations group started back up again, for example, and I'm teaching the same lovely class I had the last year we were here. In another sense we feel like everything has changed in the past several weeks. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we open the boxes and paint and arrange furniture and rediscover old treasures (or wonder what on earth we were thinking when we gave good box space to that un-beautiful, unnecessary item!). Slowly the new house starts to become a home, and the neighborhood to look familiar. It may take longer than I'd like, though, and the process isn't helped by the constant sense of my heart being on two continents at once.
So, back to the rocks in jar. I've been praying quite a bit, not only about how to fit the big ones in, but also about which rocks ARE the big ones. Truly, I think we modern folk, especially we Americans, are just swamped with too many choices. (Seriously: do we need shelves upon shelves in the grocery store devoted to varieties of canned tomatoes??)
What about self-care? As a mama with a family to run, I know this is a big rock. I need to exercise, and I need time to nurture creativity. In England, I'd get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, spend time in the Word, and then sit down to blog, journal, or work on a digital scrapbook. This gentle morning ritual lured me out of bed in the morning, and I knew I'd get plenty of exercise riding my bike around town later in the day. Now, we have a dog to walk -- which gets me the bare minimum of exercise (so! many! bushes! to sniff!). How do I fit walking the dog, creative time, AND exercise into the day? And how weird is it that in the world we live in now, we have to think about how we're going to shoehorn exercise into our sedentary days that still tire us so?
Then there's the week. Which activities should my children do? Intriguing options deluge our local homeschooling email list at a ridiculous pace. What will help them grow and discover their interests and passions without burning our time/money/energy candle at both ends and accidentally cultivating a sense of entitlement? After all, time to sit and read, or play outside, or build with Legos, is important. So is our read-aloud time, even if it's just too hot here to savor a mug of afternoon tea along with it. So is saving money for travel. And once we determine, say, that cello lessons are important, where to fit them into the schedule, and which teacher should we choose? Oh: and now they need ways to get exercise too.
A couple friends and I are reading The Odyssey on a schedule, but what about other reading? When do I read other people's blogs? Is that important? When do we open our home and our table to folks who need feeding and tending? Isn't that the whole reason we HAVE a home and a table?
The questions of how to re-craft a life that maintains some of the margin and simplicity of our year abroad without fighting our current circumstances coming, like popcorn in a hot pan. Of course, the mere fact that I have choices for myself and my children, that we're not just hoping to survive the next day's onslaught of persecution, war or famine, fills me with gratitude. This is minor stress. It is not suffering.
In the meantime, I saw a card in the post office a couple days ago with this written on it: