Marilyn McEntyre has a new book out about the joy of making lists, Make A List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts. You may have read an earlier book by McEntyre, including the wonderful Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. I’ve been reading her new book, after seeing an ad for it (some books do still get advertisements!) and ordering it. The topic grabbed me from the start. I’ve made plenty of to-do lists and to-buy lists and to-write lists but have seldom made a list that could possibly achieve a higher purpose, such as spiritual practice, as suggested by McEntyre.
There was a list I made in high school as part of an assignment in chemistry class to make 100 observations about a lit candle. There was a list I made as a young woman of things about which I needed to keep reminding myself. There have been lists for prayer. But overall, I have very few lists of substance to show for my life to date.
McEntyre suggests that we should make lists freely and joyfully, even playfully; that we should add to them with anticipation and excitement about what may be discovered as the list evolves. According to McEntyre, indeed something worthwhile is usually is discovered. She writes,
“In the process of making a list, I generally find that I can, as a therapist used to advise, ‘go to the place in me that knows.’ Line by line, I can take myself there. It’s a place of deep, lively, somewhat amusing, sometimes daunting encounter with the self and, often, encounter with the indwelling Spirit who is more present, available, reliable, and forgiving than we may think.
When you make a list, if you stay with it and take it slowly, take it seriously but playfully, give yourself plenty of permission to put down whatever comes up, you begin to clarify your values, your concerns, the direction your life is taking, your relationship to your inner voice, your humor, your secrets. You discover the larger things that lists can reveal.”
The book is loaded with ideas for things to think about via lists: things to let go of, how to enjoy what I have, what gives me joy, what comfort might look like, and so much more. I’ve got some new lists underway
[Photo taken of a beautiful scene in Gulfport, Florida.]