Dear Henri, The Wasting of Days – Week 15, Day 4

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons-8x6Dear Henri,

Did you ever have a sinking feeling that you were wasting the precious days you had left?

Oh sure, I'm only 35. To people older than me, I'm a whippersnapper; to people younger than me, I'm nearly middle-aged (and I can't quite remember how that came to be). How in the world could I already be feeling that gnawing anxiety that I'm wasting time?

Be the change you want to see in the world.

God grant me… the courage to change the things I can…

"Be", not "do".

Make every moment count!

All you have is "now".

No matter what ideology one comes from, there is a lot of pressure to not only discover and accept our identity but to live it out with zest, whatever that zest looks like. If we are truly endowed with the Spirit of the Living God, we will live our lives like never before.

Never before what?

All I did today was botch a bank crisis with a friend… which escalated into something it didn't need to. She's quite a bit younger than I am, has had a tough life, and needs support. But true communion with one another values unexpected mutuality. Meaning: I shouldn't be looking for any kind of returned affirmation from her, but between her and some other things that happened, I kind of cracked a little bit.

Mean people with big guns shot a plane out of the sky over Ukraine… Syria is zinging through crisis-mode… and the Gaza Strip? Henri, where are we supposed to be when the world's falling apart and we are in small-town Canada watching people's lives vanish?

By the time I actually sat down to read, it was supper time. I ate my supper and proceeded to take a walk by the lake. The walk was summarily bamboozled by giant swarms of fish flies — so giant that they looked like wisps of smoke coming off the lake. They were in my eyes, ears, mouth, nose… UGH!!! 

“Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends' eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.” (Nouwen, The Wounded Healer)

Looking back on today — all those little present moments that make all this ripples of love (as Mother Theresa would say) — I would classify it as a downer. Maybe failure isn't the right word, but perhaps I pushed this girl too hard… or not hard enough… or let other tacky issues get to me just a little too much… or got down on myself a little too hard for not being 'happy' in the moment (SO many happiness gurus popular right now; it's rather annoying, really). 

What do you do with days that seem wasted?

Some people swear by positive self talk: look into the mirror and repeat "This day wasn't wasted. This day wasn't wasted". The struggle I have with this approach is it relies almost 100% (if not all) on us. Some might believe we have all the internal power we need to answer all of our problems, but I don't. Many broken, busted up ragamuffins who have known mental illness, addictions, abuse, neglect, judgment have this innate sense that we can't fix ourselves. We can tap into something Greater than ourselves, but putting ourselves alone in the middle is lonely. Dangerous. 

I wonder if Jesus had 'wasted days'. The Gospels condense His life into 4 riveting accounts of miracles, parables, freedom, death and love. My guess is He had at least ONE day where he sat down after being attacked by swarms of fish flies and doubted whether or not He'd used His limited time well, or whether or not healing that person the way He did was a good decision. I mean, what if He made things worse?!

“Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?”


If, in compassion and companioning, we can enter someone's suffering, then in compassion and companioning we can exit — in often messy ways, I'll admit. But some days it seems like I could have been better: been a better woman, a better listener, a better caregiver, a better communicator, a better human being.

There must be some room to acknowledge these moments, isn't there?

I hope, for your sake, someone gave you the space to do as such during your lifetime. I know for sure I could use the space right now.

Until next time,


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