“There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.” -Warren Bennis
This has turned into one of those weeks where I don’t know what to think about life or God. It’s confusing and frustrating. He’s confusing and frustrating. Monday was a great day of worship planning, pizza for lunch, and serving homeless people with the teens.
On the drive home Monday night, I found out that Papa Bob, Michelle’s grandfather, had a heart attack. Tuesday morning he had tests and a heart cath. They put in two stents to hold open two bypasses he already had from years ago. He’s 87 and has returned home. He’s going to live for now.
Tuesday we also found out that a young lady, who is very dear to me and others of you, was worsening in her troubled pregnancy. She had been hospitalized earlier with preeclampsia. By the end of the day it was so bad that her organs were shutting down and they had to make plans to take the baby. She was only 22 weeks into her pregnancy and that’s not far enough for a baby to have a good chance at living. But we never got a chance to pray over a tiny, premature baby because they lost the heart beat sometime on Wednesday night, I think. On Thursday, she had to deliver a baby whose heart they knew had already stopped. It’s impossible to know the emotions of going through the pain of delivery with death waiting at the end. I have no way to know the depths of despair, unanswerable questions and doubts this must cause to weigh down on people, their spirits and their faith.
Thursday’s strange happening feels embarassing to even mention compared to to the gravity of the fist two. But about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, before school, Collin was at the front door looking out. I was in the kitchen when I heard him say, “Daddy, there’s a hole in our yard.” So I called back asking what kind of hole. Collin said, “One big enough for me to jump in.” This caught my attention so I walked to the door. He was right. A sink hole about 3 feet across and 3 feet deep had opened up over night in our front yard. It was obviously a result of water saturation from our recent snow and rain. I wasn’t sure what to do so I called the Street Department. They came right over, said yes it was a small sink hole, and promised to be back in a while. Within a couple of hours a big, yellow backhoe came lumbering down the road, dropped a bucket full of dirt in the hole, patted it down with big bucket, and drove away. I was very thankful. But I’m not sure how to feel about myself. I’ve never owned a sink hole before now.
With all of these holes in my life, my thinking and my faith, I decided I needed to create something to fight back against the emptiness. After some thought, I landed on pickles. I’ve been wanting to make pickles for a while and this week pushed me to get moving on them. I’m not making pickles to make light of my week or the serious happenings in it. It really does feel somehow strangely good to be creating something right now. Plus this capped off a great Daddy Day with Collin: we’ve played Wii, gone out to Bible camp to play, gone to Ace Hardware, and now started a pickle journey together. It’s not much compared to death and sink holes but it’s all we’ve got.
Sometimes pushing back against the frustrations of life seems futile because our efforts feel so small compared to the other forces at work. But I think pushing back, even in the smallest ways, reminds us that we’re still here with some fight left in us. And while I believe that God owes me and other people some answers this week, I realize there may not be ways in which He can give answer that I’d understand and I’m trying to figure out how to be okay with that fact. After all, it must be hard trying to convey eternal answers into finite minds and hearts.
If you’re frustrated with life and God, maybe you should make some pickles too. It felt good in my soul for some reason.
Half-soured, Fermented Pickles
- Wash a food-grade plastic container with a lid. It should be large enough to hold a couple of pounds of cucumbers.
- Pour six cups of water in a separate container and mix in 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. (If you need to add more water later, remember the ratio is 1 cup water to 1/2 tbls of salt)
- Put one bunch of fresh dill in the bottom of the plastic container along with 4-6 cloves of garlic, and about 10 whole peppercorns. I also added about 1/4 tbls of crushed red peppers for heat but you may not like heat. (I’m actually making two batches: hot for me and regular for rest of the family)
- On top of the spices, layer the cucumbers. You want a couple of pounds with the ends trimmed then cut in about 4-5 inch sections and quartered into spears. (see pictures at bottom of page) Layer them evenly.
- Pour in the brine. (water/salt mixture) If the 6 cups doesn’t cover the cucumbers, mix some more brine and add as much as you need. Watch your brine ratio as you make more.
- Place the lid on the container and wait…anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. The time will vary based on temperature and the brine. Remember that the fermentation does the work so you may see some scum form on top of the liquid. When you do, just pop off the lid and skim it off every couple of days.
- Taste the pickles occasionally starting on day three. When you like the taste, put the container in the fridge to stop the fermentation. Eat and enjoy.
This is my first try at pickles. I may not be any good at them. This isn’t my first try at figuring out how to comfort people in their loss. I may not be any good at that still, after all this time.
I’ll keep you up to date on both.