For the last ten years, my office has been blessed with an extremely large, old desk. Though it had the single virtue of its expansive size, some of the drawers were falling apart, and two of the handles had broken off. It was also just a little too huge for the office space I had, lending a kind of claustrophobic feel to the room.
There were several attempts to fix the drawers. The handles had been reattached and fallen off again several times.
So imagine my surprise when last Friday morning, our church treasurer called me and asked if I would like to go see a desk that was on clearnace at the store. She said she had been looking for just the right desk for a couple of years, and wanted to know what I thought.
We bought it.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. First I get a laptop computer, now a new desk!
It was going to be delivered on Tuesday, I heard. I needed to get everything out of the desk, pronto, so that I would be ready when the new one arrived. I discovered just how much that old desk could hold! There were many things I had not seen for a long time, notepads, and pens and staples, even, stuck way in the back of the drawer.
And then the new desk came: in a box, with many many many pieces. Not a million, maybe, but more pieces than I have ever seen in a piece of office furniture before. All of the drawers, with all of the sliding pieces, and all of the hangers for the pendaflex folders, needed to be assembled.
It took two full days.
I am still taking files, pens, erasers, paper clips and etcetera out of bags and putting them into the new desk. And I am trying to keep up on all the work that will not stop because I am in disarray. And I am also contenplating the complexity of desks, all the moving parts, and the non-moving parts, the million little pieces that, finally put together, make up the whole.
If it had just been me, I might have been tempted to look at the million pieces, and look at the complicated instructions, and give up. But the two men from the congregation who put it together (one, reading the directions with a magnifying glass) just kept plugging along, as if giving up was not an option.
Giving up is not an option.
Just because there are a million little pieces: of our community life, our political life, our faith, our relationships, just because it's complicated, doesn't give us permission to give up: on our friends, on our church, on our country.
So: get involved. Vote. Go to church. Ladle soup at a homeless shelter or work at a food shelf. Weep with those who weep. Love one another.
Do something hard, and complicated, and necessary. Live.