I am standing at the kitchen sink talking to God. It is like writing a letter to my fourth grade best friend: I have moved so far away from her that I don’t know what language to use. “God,” I say, “we need to get reacquainted.” And then I pause, mesmerized by the soap bubbles that seem so much more real than God. You see, I am a present moment person. That’s what everyone says, and I have to reason to doubt them.
My husband, the historian, tells my parents, on a tour of Raleigh, “This is where the civil war earthworks are.” I, on the other hand, point to an intersection, “This is where the spark plug fell out of my car!” Sure, earthworks are interesting, but spark plugs are real. And that is my problem with God who, at the moment, is an earthwork and not a spark plug. How do you talk to a relic? And why?
The problem is this: I need to decide what to do with my life. At least, that’s what everyone tells me, and I have no reason to doubt them. I, present moment person that I am, have been content to drift dandelion-along, taking life as it comes. My college degree pointed me in a certain direction, but I have largely ignored it. We’re moving. I’ve always wanted to live in Asheville. But now THE DAY OF RECKONING IS AT HAND. I am supposed to use this move as a career stepping stone. Career! Goodness! I have never wanted a career – I want to have fun!
I understand that the right career can be fun, and so I feel honor-bound to search for my niche, but it feels very unreal to me. This is where God comes in. I used to assume that I was, indeed, being led by God. That sure took a load off of my shoulders! God just opened the door and I went through. And then I went to seminary, where I learned that not only is God not who I thought she was, she/he was not going to nudge me along the path of righteousness. I have options! And not only that, any option may turn out to be the right one! I’m no Calvinist. I left seminary believing that God’s will is not a road, it is an attitude. I am free to be God’s child wherever I am.
And so. I am talking to a stranger at the kitchen sink. “God, we need to have a talk. I can’t see you very clearly now, and my path is full of possibility. I’m scared! How do I know what door to open? I am full of contradictions. I want to write. I want to work with computers. My skills are in other areas. I feel reluctant to think in terms of ‘career’. Are you there?” Dirty dishwater. Clean dishes. I look outside my window. Our yard is dotted with dandelions. White frizz floats on the breeze and I think that I will burst with freedom and responsibility. I am my own person. I choose to think “avocation” and unchain myself from career nightmares. My historian and I will survive, though I don’t find my niche. After all, I am a dandelion – small and useless in a box, filled with power on the wind.
March 23, 1992
March 23, 1992
Our wedding day, December 15, 1990. We were pretending to ring the church bell. I sort of had this southern belle thing going on. As you can tell from my expression, it was a good day.