My To-Do List

The other day I was thinking about my to-do list, that small piece of paper on which I write my chores or goals for the day or week. Here are a few items currently on my to-do list: write blog (which I’m doing now!), call Sue, mail handouts to Kalamazoo, prepare presentations for Villa Maria, PA, return library books, get oil change, answer Elaine’s email, write two Advent reflections. Nothing too earthshaking there, just the ordinary tasks of an ordinary day.

Everytime I accomplish something on my list, I cross it off. I feel good when I do that. I get a real sense of accomplishment. In fact, sometimes if I do an errand that is not on my to-do list, I quickly write it on my list and then immediately cross it off. (I bet I’m not the only person who does this!)

But today I was thinking: what would my to-do list look like for my spiritual   life? Maybe something like this: become a more loving person, talk to God more, help someone in need, smile often, enjoy God’s creation more, forgive that offense, say you’re sorry, read something spiritual.

The truth is, of course, we really don’t have two different lists. It is precisely through our ordinary to-do list that we achieve the deeper goals on our spiritual to-do list. Calling Sue, for example, is a way I reach out to a friend who is a little “under the weather” these days. My writing is another way I reach out to other people. I also talk to God often while I’m writing. If our ordinary to-do list bears no connection to our spiritual to-do list, then something needs to change. Perhaps we just have to become more aware of how our ordinary tasks can really be spiritual acts.

What about you? Do you have a to-do list? If so, what’s on it? How do your ordinary activities relate to your growth as a spiritual person?



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  1. Sr. Susan Wolf on March 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Yes, Melannie, I have a to-do list. Actually, I have several to-do lists, one for what I want to accomplish today and then others for the different projects I am working on. Your article makes me realize that I can be more intentional when I make, review and complete my list of tasks. I can pray for the grace to put items on the list that are in keeping with God’s plan for me; when I check-off an item, I can be grateful that God gave me the grace and opportunity to carry out the task. I find that these moments of spiritual awareness throughout the day are a blessing that I can give myself. Thanks for the insight.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on March 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

      I liked your emphasis on saying “thank you” to God for every item we accomplish on our to-do list. Thank you, Susan!

  2. smjames on March 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Yes–I do have a to-do list. Yes! I, too, add something I hadn’t planned and then cross it off. Somehow it adds to my self-esteem–as a do-er instead of a be-er. My spiritual to-do list gets changed, too as God reveals to me through my interaction during the day that there are just a few 🙂 things I could do to show his unconditional love to all I meet. It’s the stuff of growth which is why I am here–to become the “who” God made me.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on March 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you for the reminder, Sister, that our to-do lists must be flexible. Sometimes we do things NOT on our lists at all. And maybe sometimes we just have to scrap something on our list.

  3. Betty Nagel on March 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Melannie, thanks for pointing out the intricate connection between our ordinary to-do’s and our spiritual to-do’s. Even though I’m not much of a list person, as I become more and more aware of the connection between the ordinary and the spiritual, I am learning to blend the two, and in doing so, am becoming more spontaneous. It’s such fun and a real blessing to find where that spontanaity (spelling?) leads.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on March 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Dear Betty, Yes, how important it is to see the connection between “the ordinary and spiritual,” or the “everyday and our life of faith.” Here’s a quote I like: “Reality is God’s home address.” If we don’t find God in our everyday reality, we run the risk of missing God altogether. Thanks for your message!

  4. Colleen Mallette on May 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Sr. Svodoba, it was terrific to meet you yesterday at St. Michael Women’s Book Study. I anxiously looked up your blog this morning and have enjoyed a relaxing yet inspiring look back through your previous messages. As a list-maker and enthusiastic do-er I had to laugh as I share the satisfaction of adding extra accomplished items just so I can then cross them off! Also, I purposely try to add a spiritually related item to my daily list so I’m reminded to reach out to others during my busy day, like a phone call or email to someone I’m thinking about or taking time to read a spiritual item. I signed up to receive your blog weekly and look forward to learning more from you. Thank you for your time and advice on using my God-given talents of writing to serve Him in more ways. God Bless.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on May 3, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Dear Colleen, It was wonderful meeting you yesterday at St.Michael’s in Canton! I really enjoyed my time with your women’s book club. Thank you for sharing your practice with us: of adding a specifically spiritual item to our daily to-do lists. Your suggestion is a good one! Thank you too for signing up for my blog. It’s good to have you! St. Melannie

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