I am the worst version of myself when nothing goes as planned.
Usually, things do not go as planned.
The frequency of these disruptions stems from the inconvenient reality that plans are dependent on specific circumstances beyond my control. This lack of control causes me a substantial amount of anxiety. This anxiety results in creating a new or adjusted plan that will place me back in control. The more planning I do, the more interruptions I experience, and the worse of a person I become.
It’s not fun to work so hard to achieve something only to have nothing to show. And that’s the purpose of a plan. To make sure we are doing something and going somewhere… by articulating goals reliant on the unlikely probability that everything will go as planned.
My plan is to achieve organizational stability for The Land in 2022. It took me fifteen versions of this sermon to realize the irony in planning for stability. It took me the same amount of time to realize my definition of stability was as likely an outcome as a unicorn popping out of a prairie dog hole. A scenario I would gladly write a plan to make happen.
Stability is predictability across the board. And not just any type of predictability but predictability that I define as both convenient and beneficial for the purposes of my plan. Exemplary staff who dedicate their entire lives to the mission of The Land and never, ever leave. Donations that consistently increase to meet the needs of the budget required to employ these exemplary staff while also funding The Land’s flourishing programming. Volunteers that I can communicate with telepathically and never get sick or move away. Developers that listen to my input and provide help whenever we need it.
These are the only things I need to fulfill my plan. To appear accomplished. To prove that I have actually done something.
Something is flashy. Big grants from foundations. Hundreds of followers on Facebook. Full parking lots and news stories on TV.
Something is what everyone talks about and where everyone wants to be and where all of us wish we were going. And all anyone needs to get there is a good plan.
I cling to plans in a tilt-a-whirl world that offers me neither seatbelts nor handlebars. I create plans as though they were a Teflon shield against criticism. An assurance that the work wouldn’t be so hard, so unnerving, so uncertain moving. A possibility that I would be immune to criticism and free from critique and exempt from questions I am positive we already answered.
The plan is protection from the embarrassment of nothingness.
The truth is the plan fills us with something and distracts us from the discomfort that we may appear to be doing nothing. And the more out of the box your something seems to others, the more likely the assumption that the something you are doing is really nothing at all.
Perhaps this is a symptom of capitalism. Or consumerism. Or colonialism. Or the mission of The United Methodist Church. The pronouncement of the purpose to create disciples for the transformation of the world. A pronouncement plastered over the possibility that we are here to transform how we see, understand, and live in this world.
And this is what I find happening to me. That out here in the nothingness of the prairie I am wrapped into a plan unfolding all around me. How do you explain the radical love of an ecosystem that speaks without language? How do you defend a plan already in progress when the people driving by insist there is nothing to see? How do you find peace with the absence of the something you know people are waiting to see?
Because I believe with my whole being that this nothingness that fills me and teaches me and holds me when all the plans fall apart is precisely the something for which our species is longing.
Right there before the plans and the proposals, before the construction and the building, the nothingness is the something we were planning for all along.
The real plan at The Land rises from a voice in the wild.
A message to prepare the way for a new of being in the world.
An initiation visible in the nothingness rising from the relentless forgiveness of the divinity present in all creation. Amen.