Tuesday, November 12, 2013

As dear as your own

Okra blossom.  senk 2013
I love okra!  It's fun to pick off thin, towering stalks.  Sliced, oiled, salted, and roasted, buttery and browned okra rounds vanish more quickly in my home than Venetian honey cookies - which is saying something! And the blossoms lull your second glance when you pass through the garden.

Now, okra stalks are browned and withered. Joey and Ezra helped me gather dried pods we save for seeds in hopes of okra next year. And the only vibrant green veggie still soaking up sun and rain vines on fence trellises: sugar snap peas. I love sugar snap peas!

Isn't the variety of life wonderful, friend? Each season brings savory delights for all the senses (of course, I'm favoring taste buds in this post). Here, in the Shenandoah Valley, strawberries and black raspberries just seem to taste better when I pluck them off plants in Spring; apples and pumpkins spice up Autumn for me. As a child, I wasn't as adventurous to try unknown foods. Now, I delight to sample the great wealth God has stored in a vast array of foods.  

Are you adventurous in the realm of the culinary, too? Do you delight in the variety God puts in the other senses, too? Or do stereotypes and biases bound your way and keep you on one side? Take a moment, friend, to consider a vegetable or fruit you've never tried before and learn to appreciate it for what it is. Maybe you'll find that applicable to the people you meet today, too, as well as the valued opinions others hold as dear as your own.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Driving along

Driving along Valley Pike - a thoroughfare over the years for Iroquois, German immigrants, and now a menagerie of Americans wanting to avoid Interstate 81 while still getting to their destination as quickly as possible - I met two fascinating creatures. One is rare to see in comparison with the other, which plagues roads daily...

Evening light angled into the Shenandoah Valley, spilled into the meandering North Fork, and hiked up Massanutten Mountain. Even in that waning light, I could savor autumn's craft as it lured the true color from tree leaves on either side of the road. As the speed limit dropped, I began slowing - to the chagrin of the car behind me. The rearview mirror revealed the tailgater, her quick smear of lipstick as she, too, glanced away from the wheel. Slowing down, I could still feel an imagined push from her direction, as if she were trying to use The Force to change the speed of my car. Or was I trying to use The Force to push her away from my car?

The passing lane was ending. With caterwauling wheel, her car catapulted past mine just moments before a large black bear perambulated across the route right in front of me. The timing was impeccable! If I had not slowed down, I would not have been able to stop with a tailgater behind me.

Have you ever been in that situation, friend? People are in such a hurry today - myself included. Instead of slowing down and enjoying the journey, we're focused on the destinations in our lives: checking off our to-do list, filling our calendars with too many activities, taking on one more responsibility. It is nearly impossible to rest and when we do, it's not the rest our bodies need. Instead of heeding limits, we push ourselves up to them and beyond. 

In an Anthropocene society, limits are meant to be breeched. A speed limit, for us, is not the maximum, but the minimum we should go. But, is this sort of thinking really helpful to ourselves and to others? What if we stopped skewing our perspectives of the speed limit and saw it not as a frustrating limit on what we can do, but rather as a reminder to travel carefully and take time to savor the journey as much as the destination? May God encourage you to slow down and savor the blessings in your life today, too.