This is a never-posted oldie, but it was the start of the story that’s currently underway. I didn’t want to post in real-time, because what if it went nowhere? What if I failed? What if, what if, what if?? But I don’t care anymore. I’ll catch you up, and then we can watch it unravel together. We’re going back to June 2013 here. It’s similar to some of the posts I’ve published before, but for some reason I felt much more wary of posting this one in particular. Since it’s the true beginning I didn’t want to leave it out, so I do apologize if it feels repetitive. . . but so began the journey.
I felt it again last night.
It’s been sliding in and out of my days like a distant beacon, threatening to flicker out then sputtering back to life. Still reminding me.
It’s that feeling that plays around in my chest.
It settles in behind my sternum, pulses in a low-grade thrum that never really leaves, and it tells me there is something more for me to do.
What is it? I know it’s something I’m meant to start living.
Be a mama, yes. Be a wife, yes, but be a mama and a wife and? And what?
I pull up the sheets of our unmade bed by the glow of the reading lamp.
The kids played there today. Made a fort out of all the pillows and the fleece blanket from the Little Guy’s lower bunk.
They played with loose hangars from the closet. Made a nest for their imaginary baby dinosaur.
Anxiety rises, again, about this feeling.
I have a nagging desire to do something to help someone.
I know there is a purpose for me but I can’t get to the part where I understand who it is or how I am meant to do it.
Always, I can find an excuse for why I “can’t”.
My family needs me. The timing isn’t right. I am afraid. We don’t have the proper disposable income. I have no way to make it happen. I’m not sure to whom I am supposed to reach out.
But I’m watching Lindsay spend a year in the Philippines, I’m watching Ann meet Anna in Africa, I’m watching Shannan adopt Robert – a young man in prison, I’m watching Sonja and Alex write a cookbook to fund aid for sex-trafficked girls in Cambodia, and I remember my own trips to Jamaica and the Philippines when I was a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood.
I remember the truth that was mine, that I belonged there – at least for the moment – doing what I was doing; and in this vortex of stories and memories, I know there is more that I am meant to do than lead this quiet, peaceful right-now life. There is something that belongs with this life that is mine. It goes hand in hand with it and fits into it like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
I feel like I hear the whisper, “Who have you helped?” – the same question George Ritchie heard as he was enveloped on the bright and pure white light in his moments of death.
What is it?
I pray in the yellow lamp light.
I pull up the duvet to meet the pillows and I smooth the top sheet.
Show me what it is.. . .
When I ask like this, I have learned, I’ll get an answer.
I’ll know it when it hits me.
As I fold back the layers of blankets and glance at the nightstand, looking for my novel, a different book catches my eye.
I haven’t opened it for months.
I feel it pulling, and I know this might be my nudge.
I climb into bed and grab the book.
I pull the satin bookmark. March 14th. That was the last day I read it. I page over to June 29th.
My heart thump-throbs a rhythm of anticipation inside my chest.
My hands sting with the mist of perspiration.
I know enough to know this probably means something.
What will it say?
The instant fish accept
that they will not have arms
they grow fins.
– Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
I look back at June 28th:
Discernment is a process of letting go of what we are not.
– Father Thomas Keating as quoted in The Book of Awakening
I feel bits of comprehension playing right at the tip of my understanding, but I can’t quite grasp it.
“. . . before we can be what we are meant to be, we must accept what we are not. This form of discernment asks us to let go of those grand fantasies that take us out of our nature, that make us work to be famous instead of loving, or perfect instead of compassionate.
Yet the instant we can accept what is not in our nature, rather than being distracted by all we think we could or should be, then all our inner resources are free to transform us into the particular self we are aching to be.”
All of the sudden, it hits me.
I need to stop holding you at arm’s length. Fooling myself too.
The me I let you see here is not all of who I am. “discernment is a process of letting go of who we are not. . . .”
Let’s be straightforward with each other. I know that you know I’m nothing special in the cooking department. I’m a home cook. I love to cook and experiment, and try new things, but I don’t have any amazing skill or exceptional creativity in that department. Not like thousands of other truly amazing cooks do.
In fact, I’m quite fond of nineteen nineties cuisine and I’m content to dig out my Grandma’s recipes circa 1956.
I’m a nobody in the foodie world. It’s ok. You seem to like me anyway.
So, I am not a culinary mastermind. What I am though, is a lover of people, a believer in Grace and Divine intervention, and a truth-seeker; and I believe, somehow, some way, bits of that are meant to be shared over time.
In that I believe I may grow fins.
I feel like I am supposed to invite you along on this vague and nondescript ride with me – on this scavenger hunt for the elusive jigsaw piece, this adventure to stop pretending that it’s all about food.
This seems a bit like driving a car blindfolded, finding my way only by someone speaking directions in my ear.
It’s blind faith, but I trust The One who’s breathing words into my heart.
So I’m holding my breath and clutching the wheel with his hand resting on my shoulder, telling me to take the next turn, even if I don’t know where it leads except into an intersection of unknowns.
Come with me.
I’m going to share with you some of these things that have nothing to do with food and might not make much sense, but they will be more of me, and in being more me I’ve got a shot at fins.
And maybe someday we’ll click through old posts together and be able to point at today and say, “Wow. It all started there with all that weird talk about fish and fins.”