I have been playing a lot of chess lately. I wanted to write “learning” there but I already knew how the pieces moved around the board and, quite frankly, I don’t think I am learning a whole lot. I still suck. There is an order in chess that I don’t quite understand. It is a game of absolutes and rules that, combined with logic and abstract strategy, create a simple game of great allure. As I understand it, and as the Queen’s Gambit would have me believe, people who are good at chess are often good at math. I am good at neither. Formulas are not how I bring order to my world; patterns, however, are.
Patterns bring order but they are also discerned by order. We all seek order in some way. Mathematicians and scientists use formulas and look for correlations in empirical data while historians dig into the past to find patterns and predictability. I care not to guess how many times the term, Law and Order, was used in the past two weeks with regards to the events in the United States. We build structures, implement laws and queue for the bus, all in an attempt to bring order to our world and yet, despite our best efforts, there seems to be constant chaos all around us.
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
In our home, the days pass in lockdown and out of it with a very precise order in an attempt to minimise the chaos as much as possible. I ease my mind into the day as I drink my coffee, read, and journal before getting my physical body ready. Some days I will exercise in the morning but every day I try to put on “real” clothes and enough make-up to make me feel human before sitting down to breakfast with my family. We eat, read a devotional, and pray together before we make a start on after-breakfast chores. Our days follow a very particular pattern and within those patterns there is order – an order that keeps me grounded and keeps me sane, especially in these COVID times.
How we order our days is more often than not a reflection of what we value and what we have set as priorities, either consciously or unconsciously. How do we order our day? What do we make space for?
Spending time with our children?
Maybe it is just being still?
I believe that if we really want to do something, we will make time for it.
Sometimes I feel like I am playing a giant game of life-sized chess. The opening was solid, but the middlegame is a mystery. If played right, I will score a checkmate, but right now it just seems like chaos and I don’t know what my next move should be. Last week, my spiritual director suggested that I pray and ask God to reveal his big picture for my life. I can’t say that I had any major epiphanies (I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up) but I decided that this might be a good intention for 2021: to pray in that direction. I did, however, have some scenes flash across my mind’s eye, glimpses of what it might include. They were scenes of solitude and silence with plenty of space to write and create. This may be in reaction to my present circumstances in which I am never alone, but as an introvert I also know that solitude is critical for my creative and cognitive capacity, and not only that but my capacity to love.
As we tentatively step further into 2021 how will we order our days? We’ve all had to re-order because of COVID; we go out less and stay home more. We spend hours in front of a screen and less time with the people we love.
I wonder: when the dust settles, what will stick? What have we discovered to mean more than we thought it did and what have we found that we can do without. As we re-evaluate our position and consider the value of the pieces we have on the board, I suspect there may be a new order.
“And it was then he spoke about the broken Link – and about the greatest books in the world – that in all their different ways, they were only saying over and over again one thing thousands of times. Just this thing – ‘Hate not, Fear not, Love.’ And he said that was Order. And when it was disturbed, suffering came – poverty and misery and catastrophe and wars.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Lost Prince
This post is part of the 2021 Writing Challenge. This challenge is open to anyone and involves writing on one word a week for 52 weeks. Write for yourself or write for others but either way, please feel free to share by posting a link in the comments (if you’re posting on this week’s word) or post on social using the #2021writingchallenge and tagging me on Twitter or Instagram, or posting on my FB page so I can repost. Happy Writing!