Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kitchen Sink

I'm continuing to drag out things I've already written (I promise that I won't start posting all 16 of our annual Christmas poems - at least until Christmas!). I'm not sure what prompted me to write down these thoughts - although I totally remember that time in my life & why I was thinking these things. We'd been married a little over a year at that point & we were moving to Asheville for Dr. M to go to school (unbeknownst to either of us we were starting on the journey that led us here to Ohio). I've added some paragraph breaks because it's easier to read that way, but the original version was just one long free-flowing thought process. Here we go!

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



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.

14 comments:

  1. I liked this post a great deal, Bug. I don't follow a religion, and truthfully, I have never sat down to decide firmly what I believe. I'm content to believe that there is actually a higher power, and let others arm wrestle over what they think that entails.

    I think we're about the same age, and I had to smile because, like you, I remember feeling like I should determine my career path. At the time I didn't really have the choice, I was a single mom, and I followed wherever the best monetary opportunity led, out of necessity. When I married my husband a decade ago I suddenly had the freedom to figure out what I wanted to do. To figure out if I had a calling.

    As it turned out, I'm still drifting quite happily, waiting to see if I have a true passion. I've become very comfortable with the idea that not everyone gets a calling, even when they have the opportunity to pursue one. Or perhaps I'll wake up tomorrow, feeling very directed. For the moment, many things interest me.

    You and Dr. M. look very happy in the photo you posted.

    I can't help but wonder if that isn't your calling. That's what I began to wonder, years ago, perhaps directions and paths aren't just about vocations. Some people will do their best work, be their best self, in something other than a career. It's all very individual.

    As to how to talk to God? Hmmm. I think that's probably very individual too.

    Thank you for the lovely post.

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  2. This really resonated with me. The more I studied religion and contemplated faith, the less sure of things I became. Which I guess can be good, if not unsettling and confusing.

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  3. I like your new header, I like your wedding photo, and I like your humour.
    As for your faith in God, keep talking to Him; it helps.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. This resonates with me as well. There are times when i feel like i'm NOT focusing on present & living, & i need that.

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  5. I don't particularly like the term "God's will". It can literally drive a person mad trying to find it. But I do like your definition "God’s will is not a road, it is an attitude".

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  6. I hope you don't take this facetiously since I am not religious, but one thing was God's will today... winning a Greeblemix! :)

    http://www.greeblemonkey.com/2009/09/september-greeblemix-winners.html

    P.S. lovely post. for reals.

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  7. This was a real treat to read. I love the contrast between the highbrow "this is where the earthworks are" and "this is where my sparkplug fell out", I laughed out loud at that. God's will as an attitude is a very interesting idea, wish I'd heard that a few years ago. Great posting.

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  8. like this a lot. Just think, if everyone had sought their avocation instead of a vocation how different things might have been. I feel lucky that I made my avocation my vocation. Not god/dess' will, but my will and determination.

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  9. A thought provoking post. It reminds me of a radio program on BBC radio 4 this morning. There is this American neuroscientist speaking about his new book, a work of fiction but extremely interesting.

    He makes the point that your view on God depends mainly on where you were born.

    If it were Pakistan you would probably believe in the Islamic god; in the western world you would initially be a Christian. In Japan, a Shintoist or Buddhist. It all depends on where you were brought up.

    As a child I was taught that God was always watching you. You could not escape his presence. It kept a lot of kids in line, then! But now? No way, José.

    This is the link to part of the BBC program.

    http://tinyurl.com/ocullb

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  10. Really wonderful post, Bug.
    I have often wondered if a life calling could be about people rather than a thing. I have turned myself into knots trying to find my 'purpose' and talking and pleading endlessly to 'God', only to realise that I am probably living my life purpose already.xx♥

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  11. Wow! A very powerful and thought provocative post. Thank you for sharing it. I especially love the imagery of the last line.

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  12. WOW! You really got people going with this post, eh?

    The only thing I can add is "Me too!" Which strikes me as kinda funny since there is such a variety of belief systems portrayed here...funny but COOL at the same time. Yes?

    Keep 'em coming!

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  13. I wouldn't put too much faith in an unbelievable entity; tends to rot the mind and body prematurely. Faith is a fickle entity--one moment you're doing God's will, the next you're a sociopathic serial killer. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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  14. Very intriguing post.
    I identify with many of your dandelion feelings . . . and feel, too, that I've never really found my career. Quite possibly, I never will. And maybe that's okay?

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear what you have to say!