Psalm 89:1: I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I’m not great at living one day at a time. I like projections and systems thinking. Right this minute, in fact, there is a post-it note with the rest of this week’s tasks planned out sitting here next to my coffee cup.
(The first entry for today is to collect and deliver to the vet forensic samples from the dog’s excrement. We’ve already managed the collection part of that endeavor, which makes this day a total success before 8am in my book.)
Especially over the last few months, list-making and future planning have kept me sane. I’ve gotten deep into meal planning and created a weekly spreadsheet so I know what I’ll be eating each day. I hung a whiteboard by my desk, where at the end of each workday I write the 3 top tasks for the next. I visited 14 North Carolina State Parks this year, and entering each one on the spreadsheet, watching the blank spaces slowly fill up was deeply, deeply satisfying. Opening a single window on Fran’s daily Dog Advent Calendar is basically the highlight of our day.
When the world explodes and so much is uncertain, sticking to a plan is comforting. Even if something *else* explodes in my face spectacularly, at least I know what’s for dinner. At least my day off hike is planned and ready. At least I can exert these tiny measures of control over life.
It’s all an illusion, of course. No matter how much planning or list-making or spreadsheet filling I do, people are still dying at a rate of more than 1 per minute. We are still mired in the original white supremacy that created America. Cruelty is still coming out on top.
I realize, though, that maybe working the to-do list actually IS living one day at a time. One meal, one hike, one email, one Advent treat and the day is done. On to the next one. One foot in front of the other, trudging through these brutal days.
Even these daily blog posts – three weeks’ worth, now – are handholds to get me through. You know who understands this kind of thinking? Addicts who are working 12-step programs. One day at a time is not a feel-good cliche; it is a life-saving practice. One day of sobriety, then the next, and another, and another until an entirely different way of inhabiting the feels not only possible but already part of your routine.
Advent calendars end at Christmas. The waiting is over. The daily plodding toward celebration ends at Christ’s birth. But January and February are still cold, dark months. Epiphany only gets us so far. What will we do, one day at a time, to heave ourselves through them?
I know my meal planning and whiteboard writing and hiking challenge will go on. And maybe I’ll keep the Christmas lights and Advent candles lit through the winter, a reminder that we’re all still holding on to the hope of salvation even after Jesus’ birth.