Last weekend, while my wife was off leading a one-day spiritual retreat, I expected to spend the day polishing up our little tarnished patch of earthly paradise.
First, I expected to climb up onto the roof with my trusty electric blower and blast the burgeoning leaves out of the rain gutters, and then to clamber back down.
Leaves blown away: Check. Clambering back down: Well…
What I didn’t expect was for the blower’s electrical cord to catch on the bottom of the ladder and knock it over into the garden, nearly murdering my newly-planted fall flowers, and leaving me stranded on the roof. What I didn’t expect was for not a single neighbor to be near (“It’s Saturday, people!”). And what I didn’t expect was to have my own little unscheduled spiritual retreat. On the roof. In record autumn heat.
What I also didn’t expect was that, after a surprisingly sweet talk with God, someone would finally come along and set the ladder back up. Or that it would be the same mailman whose failure to pick up outgoing mail I’d been griping about all week. Or that he would turn out to be a young man (also named Mitch) who, like me, is perpetually lost in thought. Younger Mitch is clearly a poet. Or a graduate physics major. Probably both.
Finally, what I didn’t expect was that, after three additional hours of yard work in 93° heat, I would develop a minor case of heat stroke (dizziness, racing pulse, low blood pressure), resulting in yet another unscheduled talk with God. His message in a nutshell: “Slow down, buddy. You’re Older Mitch, remember?”
I then did a mental assessment of previous failed expectations and was surprised at how much I’d learned from them, and at how I felt about them now: they’d gradually been transformed, like that talk on the roof, into something sweet.
So I vowed, as I have in the past (but keep forgetting), to surrender my expectations and embrace the unknown. Because, if the saying “Expectations are premeditated resentments” is true (and it is), then its counterpart is also true:
Surrendered expectations are premeditated peace.
“For this slight, momentary affliction is producing for us a weight of glory that is beyond all measure.” ~2 Corinthians 4:17