I grew up alongside my parents' science fiction and fantasy library. One of our favorite authors was Orson Scott Card, whose book Ender's Game joined the ranks of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings as required family reading. Finding others who had read that book was like meeting members of a secret club who spoke our own language.
As an adult, I have tried to steer myself more in the direction of nonfiction, telling myself that it is somehow loftier, more valuable, a better use of my time. But I've recently felt a craving for the good old science fiction and fantasy again, and so I went to my handy-dandy public library and brought home a bag-full. I just finished the first one tonight: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. The hero of this story, Cazaril, discovers that the gods have chosen him to perform an important task, but he doesn't know exactly what that task is or how to go about doing it. A man much older and wiser than he, who has been trying to serve the gods for many years, gives him some great advice in this exchange:
"That the goddess has set your feet on some journey on her behalf...is abundantly plain..."
"But what am I supposed to be doing?"
"Speaking just from my own experience, I would surmise--your daily duties as they come to you."
"That's not very helpful."
"Yes, I know. So the gods humble the would-be wise, I think."
Do your daily duties as they come to you. I like that. By the way, that is what he does, and it all works out in the end. His path unfolds as time progresses. He never sees the big picture, he just does what needs to be done each day, and a miracle is worked through him in the process. This reminds me of the words to the hymn "Lead Kindly Light":
"I do not ask to see the distant scene--one step enough for me."
I am always wanting to see the distant scene...I want my life laid out before me, the whole plan, so that I can make decisions accordingly. I would rather figure out to occupy my time as an empty-nester (at least 17 years from now) than wash the breakfast dishes. But I believe this is misguided. I want to learn to do my daily duties as they come to me, instead of avoiding them as I dream about the future. I think I will find much more power to do good by focusing on one day at a time: today.