Friday, October 15, 2010


I've been doing a lot of reflection over the past few weeks, noticing little things that have happened, a few choice words said by others, little glimpses of answers and understanding I've been searching for. Last week, I went home for lunch, for a quick break in the middle of a stressful and long day, to do some dinner prep, and to eat quite possibly the most delicious sandwich ever made.  I had on-hand all the ingredients to make a really killer pimiento cheese sandwich - City Bakery Seven Grain bread, a local tomato, leftover hormone free bacon, and Earthfare's chipotle pimiento cheese. A perfect culinary goodbye to summer. Yum.

That day I heard Joan Osborne's "What if God Was One of Us" on the radio. In it she asks, "what would you say if you had just one question?" I pondered this for a second and knew my answer right away. "what am I supposed to be doing with my life?" I wouldn't ask who shot JFK, or what happened to Atlantis, or if there really is a Bermuda Triangle, or even what Heaven is like. I'd ask for guidance, for direction, for an answer to the one question I find myself pondering the most: who am I, and what am I doing here?

Later that day I saw a bumpersticker - "Love my job, love my boss. I'm self-employed". I found myself wondering if God speaks to us through bumper stickers. It just seemed to be placed there for me to see it, to get stuck in my brain to return to when I start questioning myself again. I jotted it down on a piece of paper.

A few people, some who know me well and others who I am only just getting to know, have told me lately that I'm doing ok - reassured me that I'm doing a good job with my daughter, boosted my confidence about my job, complimented or even promoted my photography, or just encouraged me that the challenges I'm facing now won't necessarily last forever. It's not just these words that give me comfort, but the fact that busy people who are under no obligation to do so have found a way to lift me up, let their warm light shine on me, give a part of themselves to me in a way that really means something, really betters me in some way. A woman I hardly know the other day asked me about my work, and after explaining my day job to her I added that I do some creative things on the side - writing, photography, crafts. "You're an artist", she said, "I can tell." 

 I drove home through a light fall drizzle pondering this. When I think of artists, I think of real, trained, openly talented people - my mother, her beloved teacher Don Roberts, our spectacularly cool and also very loving neighbors Steve and Katherine Aimone. I think of superstar artists, and people whose work graces the walls of galleries, hotshot photographers whose websites make me swoon. Me - I'm just dabbling in things I love, stumbling my way through technological advancements, trying to understand my sewing machine, and relying on my innate understanding of the rule of thirds. 

In the past, I have comforted myself a bit about losing my mother when I was just 28 by recognizing that, while our relationship was cut short, it was also very strong, very close, very lovely. Like everyone else we fought and had our differences, but other than a few minor details there is little I would change about my relationship with my mother if given the opportunity, other than of course making it longer. I'm realizing now that this is the way life is - everyone gets some things right, and other things that aren't so right. Some people get a long time to work on their relationships with their parents, but are never as close as they might want to be. Some people know exactly what they want to do in their working life, know their calling as if God's plan for them was delivered to their doorstep wrapped tidily in a bow. Some people don't get to live in a town they love, but they know they're doing what they're supposed to. It seems that God just doesn't let us have all the answers at once - none of us do, even those that seem to. 

A pastor once told me that God speaks to us when we get quiet and really listen to ourselves, to our hearts, to our gut instincts about what we should do. I try to remember this - to give myself time to get quiet and hear that voice. I feel now that God also finds ways to speak to us through others - through those who know us well and those we have only just met who find a way to say just what you need to hear, just when you need to hear it, even though they have no idea that's what you need just then. If I have learned anything from my recent challenges it is perhaps that staying alert for and open to those voices of encouragement is as powerful, if not moreso, as listening to my own voice, my own questions.

This morning, Dora cimbed into my bed in the darkness to snuggle with me. She pulled me close and said, "mommy, you're my best friend". God knows what we need to hear. Sometimes we don't even need to ask. We just need to listen.