One Bucket at a Time


I am so overwhelmed this week.

Work has been a series of problems I can’t solve. I can’t seem to concentrate long enough to get the house organized. My car needs an oil change. I have a stupid milestone of a birthday next month, and even if it doesn’t really mean I’ll be a different person, it feels like some doors I’ve been hoping to open for ages will be locked to me forever. Winter is coming, and I’m pretty sure some of the paint on the house wouldn’t make it through, so I had to face a fear and contact a contractor to come give me a quote, and now I’m scared it will cost more than I can manage and I’ll a) have wasted his time and b) have to start the search all over, or else spend all winter fretting about the house. My lawn needs mowed, even if it’s nothing but weeds. My bushes and trees need trimmed. And on top of everything else, there’s this:


I have two apple trees in my back yard. This is one.

I had good intentions back in, oh, April. I was going to stay on top of everything in the yard this year. I’d mow and weedwhack and weed and pick up every apple as it fell, if I didn’t just pick them first and can or freeze bushels of something or other.

Yeah, nope.

So here I am. I walked out there this evening with my bucket, took a look, and almost just sat down in the dirt and cried. It’s endless. How am I ever going to pick up all those apples?

But then I took a deep breath, maybe said a quick prayer to St. Francis de Sales, who in my book is the patron saint of “it’ll be OK,” and I set down my bucket. One bucket, I told myself. Don’t look at the acre of apples to be gathered. Concentrate on picking up a few apples at a time, concentrate on filling just this one bucket. Don’t think beyond the bucket just now.

One bucket at a time, I carried apples to my yard waste bin. And then I took my obnoxiously optimistic big orange bucket out front and at least started on the weeds, a bucket at a time. I didn’t finish tonight. But that’s OK. I can take my bucket back out there tomorrow. And the next day.

It’s a good reflection to apply to the rest of my life, too. I have many tasks to accomplish, and I tend to get so caught up in the big picture–all those apples!–that I figuratively sit down in the dirt, overwhelmed. But I don’t have to do it all this instant. I just have to concentrate on one little piece at a time. Just keep filling my bucket.

I’ll finish off with such a perfect quote! After writing the above and after my prayer to him, I went searching for some of St. Francis de Sales’s comforting words, and this is what I turned up almost immediately. I think someone thought I needed a double dose of this message!

 . . Undertake then all your affairs with a calm and peaceable mind, and endeavor to despatch them in order, one after another-for if you make an effort to do them all at once or in disorder, your spirit will be so overcharged and depressed that it will probably sink under the burden without effecting anything. 
– St. Francis de Sales, from Introduction to the Devout Life, Chapter X

One thought on “One Bucket at a Time

  1. Sometimes our best lessons come with a slow realization that we are, after all, just one being. The world will not fall apart because we didn’t get all the weeds today. Nor will it come to an end if most of the apples stay on the ground this year. They are , after all,biodegradable.
    How can we expect to talk to God with a head so full of I need to. We need to take time to ” clear our minds” of the things that keep us from living. The tasks that keep us from thanking God for the day he has given. Tell Him of the things that fill us with joy and wonder.


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