Closing Doors

Last night a friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to finish a creative work. As the end approaches, we come up with more reasons to procrastinate. We have to fill this in, or read another book in order to really elaborate that chapter. Continuing to live in the same work is a strong temptation. Perhaps if we don’t finish, the fun or the routine of the writing process will never end. We can continue to enjoy this story, these characters, this world, and not go back to the prosaic business of Real Life or Publishing or, worst of all, Editing…  

But that’s not how these things work. Time moves forward. We have to end things in order to begin others. We have to choose to finish. Lent is over, now we are in the liturgical season of  “Easter.” Winter is ending, now it will be spring. (We have our doubts about that one.)

I was watching a documentary last night, First Position, and a ballet mom’s son decided not to do ballet anymore. He didn’t enjoy it. Yet his mother burst into tears thinking about how that phase of his life was over, how she wouldn’t see him dancing in his cute little outfits anymore. OK, so I chuckled a little, but I could relate.

I was cleaning out our spare room yesterday. Our spare room is where we keep our vast collection of papers – bills, catalogues, everything finds its way there to someday be sorted. Yesterday I was getting rid of all of Chris’s paraphernalia from other residency programs. And it upset me! I felt sad as I looked through them for keepers and potentially valuable things (Virginia bumper sticker, anybody?) and then threw them away. That season of courtship and exploration is over.  I was mourning the end of possibilities. We are getting a house and a dog and staying in Rochester; we are not gallivanting about the beautiful places in these folders and brochures.

In the clear light of day, I know that it’s silly to be sad about such things. Of course I’d rather stay in Rochester! We will be in a town that we know and appreciate, in a community that’s very supportive through the insanity of residency, with people that we enjoy spending time with, and I get to keep the job I love. But I was still sad.

After praying about it, though, I realized two things. No matter where we went, we would have to shut the door to somewhere. We had to choose and we followed God’s call to stay. If God had called us to one of those other places, I would be sad about leaving Minnesota. And I would probably be sad about not choosing the other places, with their wineries and ski resorts and lakes and beaches.

Secondly, by closing doors, we allow ourselves to find new ones. Who knows what adventures God is calling us to right here in Rochester? By staying, we are becoming even more richly invested in the community. I have no doubt we’ll get a good dividend. 🙂  

Of Squash and JP Drains

This evening we made a delicious butternut squash soup that our friend Lisa sent in a box – squash, spices, coconut milk and all. Tasty and fairly easy! The only hard part for me was preparing the squash by getting the seeds out. I hate trying to scoop the stringy gunk and tiny seeds out of the hard squash out with a spoon. It just feels yucky to me, fighting the squash to wrest out the slimy vegetable “entrails.”

I know, I know, it’s a vegetable. How bad can it be? But it IS! I remember my parents doing this to pumpkins in my childhood and I thought it was gross then too! Squash and pumpkin innards have this smell I associate with decay.

Once they’re cooked, I have no problem. Sweet, plush, carmelized squash. Soft as butter. Purees like a dream. But when they are hard with a slimy mess of stringy membranes and seeds… shudder.

You know what I don’t mind? JP drains. Little grenade-shaped shells of plastic connected by tubing to people’s insides, draining all kinds of fluids. Fine, I won’t describe exactly what they drain. But I don’t mind emptying those things. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

Hopefully people who turn pumpkin into pumpkin puree all day feel the same way about that as I feel about JP drains.

And this relates to Lent how, you ask? Well, I’d like to think it has to do wth “vocation” or calling. I am called to be a nurse, to care for people. To empty JP drains. Other people, presumably, are called to be squash de-seeders. (Or perhaps supervise the machines that de-seed squash). Others to be teachers, others to be pastors…

You get my drift. We all do things that other people find inconceivable because they are ours to do.