I spent this morning putting some order into our paperwork at home.
I now have a logically arranged bookshelf which hopefully will mean that the next time I need to find a particular piece of paper – a birth certificate, say, or car registration details – I will be able to do so without upending the whole house.
There’s a neat pile of scrap paper that the children can help themselves to, and another of printer paper actually in a tray by the printer.
The children’s health records are in one clear plastic box, our financial records neatly filed in another.
But it’s taken me a while to get to even this level of organisation.I’m not a naturally organised person.
I get tired at the thought of thinking about creating paper management systems. I bristle at the amount of paper that comes into the house, things that need to be acted upon, things that need to be kept.
“Martha, Martha, you worry about so many things,” I hear Jesus say to me.
But how can I not when my desk and head are full at any one time of bits of urgent correspondence – toll notices, permission forms, bills, a request for a reference?
It’s a first-world problem, but that doesn’t mean it is not a problem.
I can live here, in my home office, working through my nicely ordered to-do list and feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Or I can just work out a way to do that stuff as quickly as possible and get back to my place at Jesus’ feet.
Tonight that place was in my bed alongside Jacob, who is sick with a bad cold.
“Read me a story,” he asked. But I wanted it dark so he would fall asleep as soon as possible, so I told him one, about himself flying alongside a talking bird. He laughed. “Read me another one.”
I invented one about a picnic with a squirrel, and then one about an edible house and a bed with marshmallow pillows and fairy floss sheets.
He didn’t seem to be getting any sleepier, so I tried to make my next story more boring.
“Once upon a time there was a boy called Jacob and he was very sleepy.”
I remember this trick working on Naomi once when she was around the same age. But no. Not this time. “I’m not sleepy,” he said, sitting bolt upright again.
And I’m sitting there, cuddling my three-year-old son, telling him stories, with just the light coming in from the hall, and we probably look very idyllic.
But all I want to do is get away and go into my freshly arranged office because there are two magazine holders stuffed with random papers I want to sift through, and their continued existence after all the work I did in there this morning is annoying me.
They are the last bit of work I have to do in that room and then it is done. And won’t that make me feel proud?
“Martha, Martha,” Jesus shakes his head at me. “Only one thing is necessary.”
That thing is to forgo my own will, always. To acquiesce to God’s will.
And it’s very clear which is which in this case.
So I stroke the dark curls off Jacob’s forehead and start again.
“Once upon a time …”