Confession: I’m a huge productivity nerd. I use carefully measured procrastination time to study up on the fine arts of getting more stuff done more efficiently than the last time I did it. Like all computer science nerds, I perform tasks once. If I have to repeat a task, I script it in some way to streamline the process until I only have to provide the actual THINKING part of the process. Also, like many computer science nerds, I spent the time I wasn’t in a science class (or a writing workshop) studying bits about various forms of spirituality, including Buddhism. The vaguely Buddhist notion of “mindfulness” is a big one for productivity folks, partly because it aims to nail our attention to the task at hand, and partly because it (at its best) gets rid of all that pesky process analysis that can make us procrastinate. (Otherwise known as the nagging feeling that whatever you’re doing isn’t valuable enough to get done… that there are “bigger fish to fry” somewhere out on your horizon.)
My well-aged, spotty memory and interpretation of mindfulness would be to attain a state in which you are entirely aware of your involvement in the process at hand (i.e. if you’re stuffing envelopes, your mind is actually engaged in an understanding of how the unstuffed envelopes are piled, how your hands move, the ideal angle at which to insert the paper, etc.), but you are also in a state in which you make no value judgments about the process. To return to our envelopes, I would not be focused on the nine other things I need to do instead of stuffing envelopes, nor HOW WELL I might be stuffing them, nor how lame it is that Harry ALWAYS skips out and leaves me to stuff envelopes. In other words, you exist in the moment of process, of doing.
I’m intrigued by how I do (and might yet) feel this in relation to my Christian faith. I think this could work on both the micro and macro level. Imagine the peace of simply doing the “mundane” with a simple sense that you are doing what is to be done; that the tiny action of cleaning communion cups could be a moment of focus and connection to God’s larger work. Imagine also the macro sense of letting go of all of the easy judgments about the larger direction of our lives, of our churches, our organizations. What if instead of all of our fretting about how to be with God, how to talk to God, how to live with God… what if we could abandon prayers where we fret over our lives like worry stones, and instead enter a prayer of BEING with God, without judgment on ourselves and our communities?