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Posts Tagged ‘transition’

Cliff Diver, MAZATLAN

It takes radical trust to live a life based on love rather than fear.  It takes a freefall dive off the Cliffs of Insanity (I do love my Princess Bride references) into the flowing waters of God’s mercy, not knowing for sure whether you will ever surface again.

When Big Change is happening — as it is in my personal life and as it is happening in the world — it is easy to live in fear.  It’s all around us, almost in the air we breathe.   The world encourages us to feel that there is no security, either for ourselves or for our children.

It doesn’t help that life seems to be arranged so that we can only see a step or two ahead of us.  We can’t see what will happen, and no matter how hard we try to control things, life often refuses to cooperate with our plans.  One of my favorite prayers, written by Thomas Merton, acknowledges this truth:

MY LORD GOD,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

– Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

The fearful honesty in this prayer is both frightening and comforting at the same time.  Frightening, because in order finally to admit that we don’t know where we are going, a part of ourselves has to die.  Comforting, because once we do accept that truth deep in our bones, we find that we are held and supported in ways that are unseen, yet tangible.

A year and a half or so ago, My Guy and I were driving back from the Bay Area to Southern California, with Little Bird sleeping in the back seat.  We talked about how we wanted to live a life that was more aligned with nature.  We wanted to grow at least some of our own food and have some outdoor space for a change.  We wanted to be closer to family in the Bay Area.  It seemed impossible.

Now comes the part that will make my non-religious peeps cringe:  we prayed about it.  We asked for help.  We let go of the idea that we could make this happen.  And now here we are, getting ready to move to a house in the Santa Cruz mountains with a third of an acre of usable land, a chicken house, and solar panels.  It defies belief.

I know a lot of people who are going through some dark times.  I have gone through some dark times myself, and have wondered when the light would shine again.  Right now, however, the sun is shining, and I simply want to shout out from the other side, “You can trust in the goodness of life.”

I know that everything could change tomorrow, but that God would be with me still.  And because I know that, Hildegard of Bingen’s reassurance rings true:  “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

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I’m feeling low on inspiration.  I’ve spent this week seeing real estate agents, drawing up “punch lists” (gah!) for crap that must be done to our condo to make it appealing to buyers, trying to trim down our belongings, take care of Little Bird, cook, clean, do laundry, and all the other things that make up everyday life.

Real estate agents, you say?  Yes, change is in the wind.  After 21 years of living in Southern California, I am moving with My Guy and Little Bird back to Northern California, where I grew up.   We are moving for family reasons, for work reasons, and for quality of life reasons.  L.A. feels too crowded, too noisy, and too polluted for us now.

Instead of a small condo less than a mile away from a major freeway, we are looking for a bit of land where we can grow vegetables, raise chickens and a goat or two, and have some fresh air.  I would also like a donkey, if it’s not too much to ask.  They’re just so cute, with their big ears.  I will name it Delmer.

Donkey

Image via Wikipedia

Anyways, life feels a bit crazy and out-of-control right now.  Therefore, it must be time to bake muffins.  Muffin-baking for me is a meditative endeavor with a big payoff.  You whisk a little of this, a little of that, mix it all together into cute little cups, and blammo!  You have a delicious, hot-from-the-oven carb blast to coax those little endorphins out of their hiding places.

These muffins feature an exotic ingredient called mesquite flour, which has a slightly smoky, slightly sweet and nutty flavor.  I first learned about mesquite flour in David Lebovitz‘s beautiful blog, Living the Sweet Life in Paris.  When I read his post about Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies, I became obsessed with finding mesquite flour — not an easy task.

I finally found some at Casa de Fruta, of all places, which is an overgrown fruit stand near Hollister, on the Pacheco Pass between the I-5 and the I-101.  It’s as corny a place as you will ever find; if Huell Howser hasn’t been there already, it’s only a matter of time.  After a long driving stint on the I-5 Central Valley wasteland, Little Bird enjoys the Casa de Choo-Choo and Casa de Carousel, while I make a beeline for the Casa de Restrooms and Casa de Coffee.

Casa de Fruta

Image by ldandersen via Flickr

But I digress.  After giving three whoops of joy that I had finally found the great white caribou called Mesquite Flour, I made the cookies.  The flour gave them such an odd, interesting flavor that I wasn’t sure whether I liked them or not.  So I ate one.  Then another.  Then another.  After eating about 5 giant cookies, I concluded that they were pretty darn good.

To bring this rambling post to a close, I had some extra zucchini and some leftover mesquite flour, so I decided to slightly alter my recipe for zucchini muffins.  They turned out well, if I do say so myself.  Like the cookies, I had to eat a few just to be certain I liked them.  Yup, I did.

If you don’t want to bother getting mesquite flour (and it is pricey), just substitute regular white or whole wheat pastry flour, and they will still be delicious.  And as always, remember the cardinal rule of muffin-baking:  Do Not Overmix!

Zucchini Mesquite Chocolate Chunk Muffins

1 cup white flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (if you don’t have any, just sub in white flour)

1/4 cup mesquite flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter

1 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (if you want to go the extra mile, toast the walnuts for more flavor)

3/4 cup chocolate chunks

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift or stir the dry ingredients together in large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil, and stir gently into the dry ingredients.  It is very important not to overmix, or the muffins will be tough.  I usually mix until there’s just a bit of the dry ingredients showing, then I fold in the zucchini, walnuts, and chocolate chunks.

Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin either with muffin liners or with baking spray.  Fill the cups 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cram your mouth full and sigh with happiness.

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