“Curiosity endows the people who have it with …a serenity…which springs from their cheerful willingness to let life take the form it will.” ~Alistair Cook, British/American journalist, television personality and broadcaster (1908-2004)
Sharon found herself tossing and turning. She hadn’t been sleeping well since her Dad had gotten sick. Sometimes she would fall asleep immediately only to come wide awake an hour later. Other times she slept in fits and starts, but never really lapsing into a sound sleep. This had been one of those nights.
Sometime in the middle of the night Sharon had nodded off. Now she found herself skirting the edges of consciousness. Was she dreaming or was she awake? An odor assaulted her nostrils. Was something burning? No, not burning; cooking! Her eyes popped open. She distinctly smelled roasted turkey.
Sharon rolled over and stared at the alarm clock. 5:55 glowed red. Why was she smelling turkey at 6:00 in the morning, she wondered? She rolled onto her shoulder, swung her feet out over the side of the bed and sat up. Slipping on her favorite fuzzy slippers, Sharon wrapped her robe tightly around her. She crossed her arms and headed for the bedroom door.
In the hallway, the smell of turkey was even stronger. She heard someone in the kitchen downstairs. Assuring herself that no self respecting intruder would be cooking; she descended the stairs and made her way to the kitchen door. Light spilled from the open doorway.
Taking a deep breath, Sharon stepped into the kitchen. To her surprise she found her mother at the kitchen table; a cup of steaming coffee and a magazine in front of her. “What are you doing here, Mum?” she asked. Her mother looked up with start. “I’m cooking turkey,” she replied, so glibly it was almost humorous. “Yes, but its 6:00 am,” Sharon replied. “And it smells like it’s almost done.”
“It won’t be done for another hour,” her mother responded, taking a slurp of her coffee. Silence reasserted itself. Finally, Sharon’s mother put her coffee down, closed the magazine and looked up at her daughter. The question, “What’s going on,” was written in worry on Sharon’s face.
“Sit down,” Sharon’s mom said finally. After Sharon was seated, her mother took her by the hand. “I’ve been worried sick about your father,” she began. “We have this big family dinner planned for today and I got it in my head I needed to start the turkey early so it would be done in time.” “What time did you put it in the oven?” Sharon asked. “3 am,” her mom answered.
“3 am!?” Sharon exclaimed. Her mother raised her palm outward to signify STOP. “What are we going to do?” she asked anyway. “Well, I imagine we’re going to invite everyone over for breakfast,” her mother responded with a half smile. “How are we going to do that?” Sharon stood. “Well, first you need to get on the phone and call everyone to let them know meal time has changed to 8:00 am.” While you’re doing that I need to see how many eggs I have.” “We may need to ask folks to bring some things with them… Bread for toast, for starters.” With that her mother rose and headed for the ’fridge.
Sharon spent the next hour calling family members, trying to explain why they were having a turkey breakfast at 8:00 am. Most of the family arrived on time except her younger brother who was always late for everything anyway. Everybody contributed to the impromptu buffet which turned out surprisingly well.
The table was regularly replenished as people added items or ordered out. Even a pepperoni pizza appeared at the table. The family supped and visited well into the afternoon, returning to the table at their leisure.
Later, Sharon and her mom found themselves once again at the kitchen table, each with a mug of coffee; this time with a bit of Irish whiskey in it for fortification. “This worked out really, really well,” Sharon remarked.
Her mother smiled for a moment. “If your Dad’s illness has taught me anything, it has taught me that we don’t have control over most things in our life. I’ve always been a control freak, but lately I’ve learned that I’m better off to let things unfold. It is there that I find peace.”
We live in a world where “managing” our lives has become a primary goal for many of us. Phones, cars, computers, consumer services, and a variety of other tools promise us a more convenient life. Seminars and self-help programs promise to help us manage our time, manage our lives, and get what we want out of it.
But try as we might, life is pretty much unmanageable. “Life happens,” regardless of our attempted, well-intended interventions. People, bosses, friends, enemies, spouses, and strangers are unpredictable. The unexpected seems to occur as often as the expected.
Some would say this is a very pessimistic view of the world. Perhaps instead it is a key to peace of mind. Stewardship reminds us that we are to use what we are given, wisely and well. The unspoken factor in all of this is that God does not give us everything at once, like a stack of poker chips to be won or lost on the roll of the dice or a hand of cards.
Life unfolds, constantly providing us with new vistas and viewpoints. Sharon’s mom, in the midst of her husband’s serious illness, found joy in letting a happy accident run to its logical course.
Let life unfold as it will. You might be surprised what God has in store for you!
Dear God, remind me I am called to experience life, not manage it.
“When life gets too hard to stand, kneel, and let go, and let God take over.” ~Nishan Panwar, Facebook philosopher.
©2014 James E. Carper. All rights reserved.