When one gets back into the swing of a familiar routine, it becomes harder to stop, contemplate, breathe deeply and remember. That's my apology and excuse for why these last posts have been mostly about food. I'm sitting here in my office/living room, looking at a kitchen table dusted with flour and 5 dozen Christmas cookies waiting to be frozen for an upcoming children's party. It's been a busy day. I've watched 4 episodes of the second season of Dr. Who (what fantastic, wonderful fun, especially while beating pounds of butter and sugar by hand). My desk is littered with papers, books, journals and dishtowels. There seem to be a million things to do before I leave for Christmas. There's money to be changed; the dollar is up to 2.40, which seems too good to be true. The morning's heavy rain has turned into a gentle breeze that is helping cool down my home; the gas oven was hard at work for over two hours, making for a sticky environment. I need to open my Bible, write in my new Moleskine journal with my recently re-discovered fountain pen. (Striated like some silvery worm, it makes writing by hand even more of a joy.)
And somewhere in that stack of papers and jumble of notebooks are asides, half-thoughts, comments on articles I wanted to write, stories that needed telling, reflections on Peru, Ilha Grande and the last few weeks. But I'm over-sugared and feeling rather sluggish. There's a pan of leftover spicy ginger chicken stir-fry in the refrigerator that will do nicely for dinner. Maybe this writer's block is simply a protein deficiency, easily cured.
On the subway late last night, returning from our Bible study, I was thinking about aliens, Nephilim, callings and careers, illness. A friend recently returned my copy of Bill Williams' "Naked Before God" which is out of print but shouldn't be. On my trip home, I was re-reading the section where he shares about his experiences as a hospital chaplain.
He quotes Deuteronomy 34:4-5, which has always been a sad verse for me to read:
"The Lord said to Moses, "This is the land which I promised I would give to Abraham, Issac and Jacob's descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes. Yet you shall not cross over into it..."
Moses was one of those descendants. Didn't he ache to be in that land? Wasn't it cruel of God to show him what he was missing, like a parent giving a child brand-new Christmas presents before returning them to the store, saying, "be content with what you have?"
Instead of following my bitter train of thought, Williams relates his experiences as a chaplain to this verse; those few months were like gazing into the promised land. Another's promised land, another's calling. Not his. Sometimes it feels like failure, to stand on the outside, on the other side of the river gazing at new horizons. But when we come to the place where we realize that "failure" is actually a victory, knowing our limitations, knowing that that so-called promised land would have made us very unhappy...well, that's a beautiful realization. I'm paraphrasing, but maybe you understand?
And so as I walked home last night, those words echoed in my mind. This last year has been preparation for change. I feel it in my bones and mitochondria and all sorts of cells I don't have names for. I'm not sure where my promised land is, or what it is. I couldn't even tell you what it is that I "want to do with my life." But I know what my calling is, at least in part. Because ever since I was old enough to pick up a book, I've burnt with the need to write. And under the night sky, where Venus and Jupiter glowed bright, I thought about one of the things I'm sure of: God is happy when I am writing. And so am I. Maybe some of the promised lands I've been gazing at aren't for me; I've always had difficulty imagining myself locked up in an office for 8 hours a day. I'm not sure whether missions will be a permanent future for me. But there is no conceivable future in which I am not creating, playing with words until they shine, weaving stories together to share with others. And I believe that God is going to start opening the doors, the right doors, to the promised land I'm meant to step into. Soon. And that puts a smile on my face. About as big as the rainbow that should be in the sky right now...