“An Easy Flow”

From the Newsletter:

As many of you know, last week, we Grants were away, enjoying a week in Aruba as a way of marking two years without air travel and of celebrating a window of post-COVID immunity for the four of us.

Where do you go when, suddenly, you can go pretty much anywhere?

For us, it was Aruba—largely because two of us (Emily and I) are big fans of a “lazy river,” a particular kind of meandering, “circular” swimming pool with a gentle current, such that you can hop on your inner tube and just float for a while without ending up in the next county, the way you would on a real river.

Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of other nice things about Aruba.

But for me, it was the lazy river.

And I’m not alone.

If you go to a place with a lazy river, it’s quickly clear that a lot of other folks share your enthusiasm.

Which is great.

Until you all have the same vision of a golden afternoon under the blazing equatorial sun, reading your book…or talking about how cold it is in Minneapolis according to your sister, or about how Coach K really learned everything from Bobby Knight, or how you really really liked Hawaii best of all but it’s so expensive and so darn far.

Or whatever it is you imagine doing or talking about on a lazy river.

The closed and furrowed-browed people reading their iPhones in the middle of the water bewildered us all, so there was that, bringing the rest of us together.

But it was crowded. Lovely but crowded.

It was a couple of days into our visit that I noticed a modest sign posted at a few strategic points along the lazy river: “Thank you for allowing others to enjoy an easy flow.”

The necessity for that kind of management should be obvious enough.

That said, I appreciate its aspirational spirit, not only in calling us to be mindful of someone else’s “flow,” in the first place, but also in offering that care to them as a kind of magnanimous gesture in the spirit of neighborliness.

Sometimes it is in things undone—the zinger that remains unspoken, the parenting moment we pretend not to overhear, the reasonable complaint we don’t take to the manager—that we practice some of our deepest kindness.

In keeping custody of ourselves, we allow others to enjoy an easy — or an easier — flow.

As the end of Lent nears, I’m aware of how it has been a time to ask ourselves what that custody can look like, and what we need to do in order to keep it more firmly.

The power of our dependencies, be they small or not so small, can make these five weeks very hard for us.

But what might a firmer grip on them allow others to enjoy? What if we are not the most important beneficiaries of our own discipline?

What can we do that will allow others to enjoy an easy flow?

It’s not a lazy question.

See you in church

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