Who wished calendars on us, anyway?

My husband and I, no longer able to ignore ours, are not thinking kindly of the ancients. Despite a lack of dental appointments and Zoom meetings, the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Mayans created calendars. The world has never been the same.

Millennia later, my spouse and I glumly agree a date-and-time powwow has to happen. I try to create a gracious setting, turning on soothing classical music and supplying a pair of brownies to sweeten the task. We bring up emailed lists of our seven grandchildren’s end-of-year activities. We summon our calendars and take a deep breath, determined to organize our world and theirs.

Right.

School and sports officials in two different states obviously had conspired to push Hubby and me over the edge. How can we attend a middle-school choir concert, a fifth-grade musical and a high school graduation on the same day 250 miles apart?

I – and probably most grandparents – wish scientific geniuses would concentrate less on conquering outer space and focus on beaming us to Timmy’s T-ball game on time.

Then there are the small matters of Hubby’s grading final papers and my writing projects. Mowing the grass monthly and trying to plant our garden before September.

Sigh. After an evening’s collaboration, we still cannot tell our pastor whether we will be available to read Scripture on a specific Sunday morning.

My personal allergy to calendars is rooted in my background. I do not recall having ever seen one in my family’s house.

Woody Allen, expanding on an old Yiddish proverb, said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” My parents, who pastored small churches together, simply believed God’s plans often did not match ours. So why bother with a calendar?

They lived that adventure, too. Even trips to the grocery or car repair place were often interrupted by “divine appointments” with troubled, hurting – and annoying, to my way of thinking – people. Especially if my plan was for us to go swimming.

I suspect, though, that my dad, King of the Spontaneous, viewed calendars as enemies not only for spiritual and people reasons, but because he disliked anything that cramped his style – other than Jesus.

My mother, though, kept track of most of the piano lessons, track practices and work schedules of five children in her head – along with all church events. Her life resembled that of an unpaid air-traffic controller.

Until I met my future husband, I believed everyone led a similar lifestyle. At his house, however, I discovered that along with astounding, handprint-less walls and abundant, untouched supplies of food, a calendar hung in the kitchen. Unobtrusive, with inked and penciled notations of who, what, when and where, this Clark-Kent document possessed a superpower: it ran four lives. Every day. Every month. Every year.

Yet, somehow, my naïve love and I envisioned a harmonious life together. We did manage to show up on the same day to get married. But how have Hubby and I met additional calendar challenges?

First, underneath Hubby’s conventional exterior dwelt an adventurous, daring spirit. He married me, didn’t he? Second, his medical school training and career as a country doctor trashed any semblance of predictability. Babies, especially, possessed zero respect for his plans for eating and sleeping. Hurting, troubled people often did not follow his office schedule.

Strangely enough, I, serving as a church staff member and running my own launch-’em-and-land-’em household with three children, began to appreciate the value of calendars. My brilliant, flexible mom may have been able to keep track of our family – and Dad – in her head, but I needed that calendar on the wall if I wanted to be there for the people I loved and served.

Now, as Hubby and I tussle with our phone calendars and try to concoct a plan that does not include lots of gasoline, we still want to be there for those we cherish. For the church and community we love.

What if our calendars – and our lives – showed nothing but white space? Blank evidence that we cared for no one, and no one cared for us?

We would rather learn to laugh with God.

Although the next time we hold another calendar powwow, I will bake a whole pan of brownies … and pile on the ice cream.

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