It’s been something of an intense Fall in our home. We are always busy with putting up food and closing the gardens and all of that. But life has been handing us lemons it seems – especially those of the $$ variety – and after a while, you think, “come on, Jesus. Can’t you see I’m swimming in lemonade already? Cut me some slack.”
Anyway, I learned today that a course I was planning to teach at the end of this month through Christmas has been canceled. That’s a pretty significant fiscal hit for us, at a time when those kinds of hits aren’t exactly what we’re looking for. We won’t be eating cat food or anything like that, but still. It’s hard.
It was on my mind as my six-year-old daughter I were chopping and spicing veggies this afternoon. The older kids were at piano lessons; we were working on dinner. We got around to talking about Halloween and carving pumpkins and I said, “well, I don’t think that’s going to work the same way this year.”
In Worthington we celebrate Halloween on the Saturday before October 31. So in our home, we always carve pumpkins that afternoon. It’s a ritual – drawing the faces, scooping the guts, roasting the seeds, carving the eyes and teeth, lighting them up for our neighbors.
But this year, I was to expecting to start teaching on that Saturday. I was going to miss most of Halloween – certainly the pumpkin-carving part.
Anyway, about five minutes after I told Fionnghuala I wouldn’t be around this year, I remembered that my class was canceled. I would be around after all. When I corrected myself, she smiled and said, “It’s funny how when you want something it just works out perfectly.”
Halloween without pumpkin carving in the afternoon just isn’t really Halloween.
Of course that is a sweet story, but it made me smile for other reasons, too. The essence of a separated world is that things change: thus, what feels catastrophic to me is an answered prayer for my daughter. Only illusions shift and morph.
That is why Jesus teaches in the course that “[w]hatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed” (T-1.V.5:1).
And that is why we really can’t get hung up on what seems to be happening in our lives. We can’t invest in it, or take it too seriously. It doesn’t matter what happens: car accidents, winning lottery tickets, beautiful sunsets, tornadoes.
The circumstances of life flow around us. Its ebb and flow testifies to the separation. But it only seems to be driving us. It only seems to be affecting us. In truth, we are perfectly unaffected by all of it.
Happiness is not really getting what we want: it’s accepting that what we want isn’t here at all. I can’t tell that to a six-year-old. There’s time enough for those lessons in her life. But I can remind myself to breathe and remember that better hands than mine are running the show.