The Unknown

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On Tuesday, here in Columbia, South Carolina, we began to batten down the proverbial hatches for Leon, the Snowpocalypse.  Most children were out of school (though the weather didn’t start till after school time, Atlanta’s is a cautionary tale), the roads were treated, the university and the government were closed.

Among those of us who gathered at work, diverse attitudes abounded.  I was soon struck by the variety of responses to the same news, and realized that a bit of what we were experiencing was how each of us–where ever the impending ice-meggedon found us emotionally that morning–dealt with change and uncertainty.  Of course, no sleep the night before, or a big deadline, or experience driving in snowy weather surely affected our outlooks as well, I was struck that the way we respond to small things may inform the way we respond to large uncertainties in life as well (then again, a death in the family and a possible snow day are rather different things).

There were those who greeted the possibility as a gift–an unexpected opportunity for something different, an adventure, a change of pace, a tool to knock us out of the “norm” and into whatever the day or the weather might have in store for us.

A few others of us looked at the sunshine, the empty, dry roads, and slivered our eyes, “Is there really weather coming?” we asked the skies.  The existence of the storm was doubtful, its effect unproven.  These folk were unimpressed-till-snowed-in; crossing the bridge if it happened to materialize out of the sunny skies, pragmatically focusing on the task at hand till then.

Though there weren’t any in our offices yesterday, I suspect (judging from the empty OJ, milk, and bread shelves at supermarkets) that another significant group was gripped with fear of the unknown.  Would it come?  Would it not-come?  What would happen?  The anxiety of an uncertain future was debilitating, and so they busied themselves laying in supplies.

For a Christian, there are bits of truth in each of these life-attitudes.  We need not fear or be anxious about the future, but we ought to be wise as serpents, shrewd in our decisions and prepared for unexpected events (thinking of the virgins and their oil lamps).  Of course, we ought not run about as a chicken sans-head; being so preoccupied with the unknowable possibilities of the future as to forget the task we’ve been set to here and now isn’t for the best interest of our earthly companions or for the glory of God’s kingdom.  Finally, life is indeed a joyful adventure, though hopefully we can remember that when the weather (or a day) is unremarkable as well.

“work/life balance” versus energy-giving/energy-sapping

In the last few months, I’ve start to run into articles challenging this pervasive idea of a “work/life balance.”  The work/life balance idea is that our lives generally don’t fit into neat 9-to-5 boxes anymore, and with the growth of families where both parents work, the lines between our home lives and work lives continue to become more blurry.  We’re supposed to divide up the hours of the day or the week, and commit some to the “work” column and others to the “life” column–maybe bloggers work mornings, take the afternoons off to be with their children, and then work a few evenings a week.  For me, putting parts of days or weeks into “work” and “life” baskets creates pressure to be ALL WORK or ALL LIFE at particular moments and inevitably, bits of the other try to sneak in.

Enter Lifehacker’s “When (and If) You Should Ever Work for Free,” and ABlogAboutLove.com’s “I Don’t Believe in Work/Life Balance, I Believe In Managing Energy.”

Managing energy and looking at the sorts of things that bring you joy provides a different set of categories for evaluating your life.  I’ve heard people talk about their lives as a wheel, too–with God at the center, and all the rest of your activity (or non-activity!) expanding from that one central place.  I wonder if this “managing energy” method–though I’m not sure what I think about this “limited energy” idea (as described in ablogaboutlove.com’s article)–might be helpful to get on the path toward getting God to the true center, touchstone, and energy source.  I’ll be that if God is the true energy source, our energy wouldn’t be so limited…

one of those nights

Today was one of those days.  Just an hour to two too long.  You really need some good food to get your groove back, but there’s not much at home, and being 830pm and living in a “trendy” part of town–you probably shouldn’t be biking about alone (it’s not quite to super-bike-friendly territory here yet).  So you go home.  and there are plenty of trashy tv shows on DVR.  but you really need something delicious for your belly.

so you pull out peanut soup.  which starts with onions and butter (nothing smells better.  nothing).

Peanut Soup (based on, or stolen from, Colonial Williamsburg’s King’s Arms Tavern)

¼ c butter

1 finely chopped onion

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 T flour

8 c chicken stock

2 c peanut butter

1 ¾ c cream

peanuts

In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, melt ¼ c butter.  Add 1 finely chopped medium onion and two ribs of celery, finely chopped.  Cook, stirring often, 3-5 minutes, stir in 2 T flour, cook 2 minutes, pour into 8 c chicken stock, bring to boil.  Reduce to medium and stir often till thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes.  Blend with immersion blender.  Whisk in 2 c peanut butter and 1 ¾ c cream.  Cook 5 minutes, do not boil.  Serve warm, garnished with peanuts.

 

I only had a splash of cream, but to me, it was just as good, if a bit less-thick.