I don’t think there are too many out there who would argue with me if I were to assert that sometimes things that we do not plan for actually occur. If we have learned nothing else in these last couple years, many of us have learned that. Sometimes as people who value reason and facts, we want to have an explanation for why things happened and if the things that happen or not things we want, we want to know how to prevent such things from happening again. Can get caught in the trap of thinking about the answers to these unanswerable questions.
The unsettling truth that is coming to my mind more frequently these days is that sometimes we just have to do what we can with the situation, put on that lens of abundance, even if the outcomes we are living in are not the ones for which we wish. We have to do that even if we don’t understand why something happened. We have to do that even when something is grossly unfair. We have to do that even when somebody we love has been harmed or when we ourselves have been harmed. Our choice appears to be to make what we can with what we’ve got or to remain stunned by the change of circumstance.
Sometimes these are large circumstances and sometimes they are smaller. This week, I was wrestling with the circumstance that I don’t want to deal with which is that we have been unable to hire anyone to cook for our Wednesday night dinners. I was on the way to improvise something because those gatherings are such an important part of our community. And as I was adding the same to an already busy day, I called ahead to ask one of my colleagues to put the ovens on so they would be preheated. He discovered a scaly writhing friend in the kitchen.
Now I have a fear of snakes. It is not a rational fear. Rationally I understand that snakes are part of the ecosystem that we live in and that they have a very valuable role to play in those systems. I have read a great deal about this and I understand that some of us just have a physical fear of snakes and I am one of those people. So discovering that a snake have been a recent guest in the kitchen was not something that I found delightful.
I could have decided not to cook dinner, I could have chosen not to go into the kitchen because of the snake’s recent presence. I could have decided to go home because I’m much happier to be in places where snakes are not. I decided instead, after a cautious look around and under things, to proceed with making dinner and to enjoying an evening of food and company with people. The snake, I hope, having had his visit to the kitchen unexpectedly and rudely interrupted, chose also to go about his slithery the evening in his own manner.
I do not mean to make light of something that is often much more serious. People we love will be sick or harmed or injured. Relationships that are important to us will be interrupted or ended. Weather patterns that we did not expect will cause damage or fear or both. And yet through it all, our choice is what we make of what life gives us, even when we don’t understand why that particular gift was granted.
This is the image of my week, this is a picture of an unwanted visitor. I choose to make of it a reflection about abundance and choice and the value of committing to community.