It happens five times a day, seven days a week. A cymbal sounds on my phone to remind me of things that I’ve decided should be the focus of my attention. The first sounds at 8:30 and the last at 5:30. One of the five cymbals calls me to a specific piece of work—picking up voicemail messages left on one of my work voicemail systems—but the others call me to things I decided that, after much thought, I must do regularly in my life—lectio divina (time with God), biking (time for my physical health), playing my flute (time for beauty), and writing (time for reflection)—if I am to a happy, healthy, loving person.
The cymbal clangs five times a day and most days, at least four of the five times that it does, I dismiss the reminder notice that comes with the clang without doing what it’s reminded me about. I turn the reminder off and go back to work on the long To Do list that’s in front of me. The thinking that comes with that choice is usually along the lines of “Well, if I can just get through this list, I’ll have time to truly enjoy playing flute” or “I’ll really focus on today’s scripture passage if I don’t have a To Do list in the back of my mind.” It’s logical thinking, but it doesn’t quite make sense because I never get through the ever-increasing list of things that people are asking from me.
The cymbals clang and instead of being excited by their clanging—a clanging that should be calling me toward something I love—all they do is make me feel guilty that I’ve sold myself short again because of my commitment to the priorities that come from others.
Last evening just before going to bed, I learned that a friend from college—my son’s godmother, no less- whom I lost track of for a good number of years but then reconnected with in a much more casual way four or five years ago, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has just begun chemo. I called up my own mammogram, breast ultrasounds and biopsy scares over the past year as I thought of her news and committed myself even more to making a point of doing the four cymbal activities that I believe I need to be doing. This morning I woke up with the same strong commitment and started my day. The cymbal clanged five times today. I made my phone call to pick up messages as soon as that clang went off. I skipped lectio to make some necessary phone calls. I biked about three hours late, but I biked. Flute fell by the way. Now I’m writing 11 hours after the clang to remind me of my commitment to write and I won’t spend the time I’ve promised myself that I would but at least it’s a start.
Tomorrow when the first cymbal sounds I’ll already be at work and when the last one sounds I’ll still be there. Tomorrow they will remind me of how life could be, might be, should be, rather than calling me to action. I toy with removing them, but if I do, I fear that I’ll forget completely about what matters most in the flurry of what’s demanded and what others label as important. So tomorrow there will be clanging cymbals calling me, at least in spirit if not in practice, in the direction of love and wholeness.