What Are You?
Detours in Life
A very astute reader noticed that yesterday was not the 24th day of Pentecost. I number these posts according to the day of the liturgical season in which they were written. Sometimes the series them for a season correlates with the season and sometimes it does not. However, generally speaking, the post matched the day of the season in which it is published.
This Pentecost theme of detours was selected several months ago with some of the posts written at that time. Others, like today, are written in response to world events or reader questions. I had no idea the number of detours I would encounter sine the second week of May this year. I did fleetingly wonder if I had jinxed myself by selecting this topic but I really think I am just more aware.
The fact is that life throws us detours practically every day. Many are very small but others are really life changing or at least career altering. The type of detour is seldom as important as our response to it. In fact, our response to the detour is really what life is all about. That is what defines who we are and what type of person we are. I am not a quitter and so, within the next seven weeks, I will get caught up, I am not considering this series a bust nor the topic absurd. As an optimist, I am looking forward, not wallowing in the past. I have had some wonderful mentors in my life and thus, I can appreciate the lesson in detours that life has given me the past three months. After all, a detour is just a different route to the same destination you were headed for, not a roadblock or stop sign.
If you are a somewhat regular reader of this blog, then you know my penchant for coffeehouses and children. Although I usually order tea and not coffee, the throng of humanity found at a coffeehouse is delightful. Add children to that and you have a writer’s mall for thoughts and conversations. In short, at a recent visit, I found myself in a compositional heaven.
The grandparents were at their regular Bible Study/Social meeting and the young boy had accompanied them. His delight at the large-sized orange juice his grandfather had ordered for him was heart-warming. “I’m gonna grow big and strong with this!” he exclaimed. His grandmother offered him a spoonful of her coffee upon his request and the expression on his face made everyone laugh. “That cannot be good for you.” He advised his grandmother. “You need to drink more orange juice.” Somewhere the Minute Maid Company had just loss a great commercial idea.
Introductions were made to the young lad as others joined their group. I was impressed with the “adult” way they introduced themselves to him. After all introductions were made, he then asked if he could repeat their names. It was clear no one expected him to do so but he did. Upon saying the name of the last person, his grandfather began to open their meeting. The young boy politely told the grandfather he was not finished talking. Chuckles were heard and the grandfather pointed out he had named everyone, correctly.
The young boy looked around the coffeehouse and then leaned over to his grandfather. “I just learned their names,” he explained. Now I need to ask them something.” The group seemed amenable so the grandfather sat back and encouraged his grandson to continue. The wide young person then looked at the first he had named and asked: “What are you?” The gentleman began to say he was s retired teacher when the boy interrupted him. “No, that is what you did. What are YOU?”
That is the question I hope you ask yourself this week. What are you? Last week we delved into the question “Who are you?” in our attempt to improve and grow some self-love. This week we cannot improve our self-worth without knowing what we are. More importantly, what do you want to be?
Any good gardener knows there are various things that need to be done in the process of growing a garden. There is the cultivating and tilling of the soil, preparing the soil, nurturing the soil with water and perhaps fertilizer and plant food. The list might seem endless to a non-gardener but to those who believe in growing things, the list is simply a part of daily life. Essential to gardening, though, is knowing what one is planting.
I have stated here that I do not have a “green thumb”; that is to say, my talents do not include being a master gardener. The truth is that I can grow a nice garden, whether it is flowers or vegetables. What hinders my success in gardening is my lack of interest in learning about the plants themselves. I can bore you to no end about the difference between a xylophone and a marimba because I am interested in those things. The nutritional needs and their differences between a cauliflower and a bell pepper hold no interest for me at all. For one thing, I am allergic to bell peppers and mildly so to cauliflower. Ask me about tomatoes, though, and I am right there with answers. You see, I adore tomatoes.
Life cannot be lived just eating tomatoes, though. While they hold great nutritional value for our bodies, we do need other things. I have come to learn how to grow carrots and cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and kale, and attempt to grow beans, although pole beans and legumes are still at the “getting to know you” stage with my gardening skills. Corn and I have an on-again-off-again relationship and I have never attempted fruit trees although I do love to eat their bounty.
Clearly, if I had to grow my own food I could survive but I would have to alter my eating habits and pray for good health and weather. I rely a great deal on the convenience of shopping at local markets and stores. I can grow an avocado plant but cannot get it to bear fruit. Life for me without avocadoes is unthinkable and I am grateful for imports from other states and neighboring countries. The same is true for olives. I am something of a cheese-a-holic and yet, having a herd of cattle and goats would not yield me any cheese homemade. Again, I am grateful for those for whom making cheese is a talent they share.
When it comes to growing my soul, I also rely on others. I myself can only do so much based upon my skills and knowledge. I reference many things and listen to many people. Just as with an actual gardening, there needs to be some weeding out of the information we have available. Not everything is beneficial and unfortunately some people are more interested in creating followers than helping people grow. I hope whatever your next detour is helps you find your own sources of nurturing to help you grow and flourish. More importantly, I hope you find and increase your self-worth and are then able to answer to the question: What am I?