Sunday, January 29, 2017

Relish (To Enjoy Greatly)


Relish verb 
1. to enjoy greatly
synonyms: enjoy, delight in, love, adore, take pleasure in, rejoice in, appreciate, savor, revel in, luxuriate in, glory in

The world outside was an old gray dishrag, wet and dripping, on the day I met a writer friend for coffee.  Settling in, we shared our mutual hatred of January, the way it feels like it always has five weeks at least or seven. 

“February is ok,” she said. “By February I at least have hope that March will be nicer.”

This writer is a friend of a friend and has attended several of the local writing events I’ve offered.  Each time we meet, we talk like people who don’t know each other well, but would like to know each other better.  

Near the end of one event, as we stood talking, she said something I've mulled over for months.  She had been asking what I was up to now that all of my kids are in school and when I fumbled for a response she said something like, “I think it takes a good year for a woman to recover after her kids start school.”  That one sentence stuck with me and offered much needed permission as I begin the process of reemergence after years of being fully consumed by a hectic home life.     

Over coffee last week we each talked about our works in progress and writing plans for the future.  She’s just finished revisions on her first novel, is wading into a second, and looking for an agent.  I told her how I’d written a rough draft of a memoir last spring and, in the midst of it, realized I didn’t have any idea what I was doing.  So I stopped working on the memoir and started writing Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk & Poultry

“You know how, if you were going to sew a wedding dress, you would first sew a mock-up of the pattern out of cheaper material, to make sure you understood how to do it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, nodding.

“That’s what Chicken Scratch was supposed to be, a chance to try the process,” I explained.

“Well, it worked out well,” she said.

The thing is, writing and publishing Chicken Scratch taught me a lot about publishing, but it didn’t teach my how to write a memoir and that’s where I find myself stuck now.  “I’m not really sure what I’m doing next,” I said.

 “Well, you did a lot - writing and publishing that book in a very short period of time.  Maybe you just need to relish that,” she suggested.  Registering my blank stare, she asked, “Have you done that?”

In my imagination, the word relish hung between us like some gorgeous, ripe fruit swaying on a low-hanging branch.  Relish is a rich word, luxurious like dark chocolate and red wine.  The act of relishing, though, is utterly foreign to me.  The act of relishing sits like caviar on a cracker – I don’t know what to do with it, don’t know if I even want to try.

“No,” I said, “I haven’t.”  Then, I added, “I don’t know how to.  I’m a worker bee, always on to the next thing.”

With that, our conversation shifts again to future plans, but the word 'relish' stays with me for days; sticky, like a trace of honey in my mind.  Looking it up to write about it today, I see that to relish is to love, to delight in, enjoy and rejoice and it occurs to me that, although the word relish may not appear in the Bible, it's synonyms sure do.  

A quick glance at the Psalms, or at Jesus for that matter, reveals that people of God are to be skilled in the art of relishing - biblical writers delight in the Lord, in God's word, in creation.  We are to be people who know how to enjoy the goodness of this earthly life.  Without the ability to relish the good, how will we ever adequately recognize and confront the bad? 

When it comes to "relishing" I have, some work cut out for me, which suits this worker bee just fine.  The invitation now is to look and listen for the doorways of delight, the moments when I can open my hands, my heart, to the goodness of what is and has been done.  And by doing so, I will be buoyed to begin whatever new work the future holds.     

If you liked this post, you may also like Enjoy! Tales of Waitressing, Chaplaincy & Motherhood.



7 comments:

  1. Such wisdom in this. We truly need to savor the moments of life for how else will we ever take delight in what God is presently doing to see and know for certain where He is taking us next. That is a thought I want to think more on today.

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  2. I have a friend like that, and when our kids were very small, I remember having a very tired and discouraged phone conversation with her in which she said, "You know, sometimes I just sit on the couch and watch the kids play."
    That sentence hit me with the force of grace.
    I had all these lovely children in my home, and it did not occur to me to just take time to look at them for a while.
    And on a completely unrelated theme which reveals the strange sense of humor those tiny children grew into: I make and can relish in the summer, and it's a favorite around here, so whenever it hits the table, someone invariably feels compelled to say, "I relish relish."
    I don't spend enough time relishing relish or anything else. Thanks for your words today which were certainly like a memoir, but which ended up being didactic as I read them.

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    1. Oh, thanks Michele. I relish relish too - it certainly brings out the flavor in things. I'm so grateful for friends whose words strike a chord, their words, as you say often serve as an invitation to grace. Take care, Michele.

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  3. Your post makes me want to relish! I suppose it is good in almost any task completed to take a moment to relish the completion and, perhaps, even the process. Perhaps...even the period of time before the project even begins; the planning stage. I hope you can relish all of these moments or steps that happen for your current project completed and the future one. Your writing is so wonderful, I am confident that you will do well with your next project!

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    1. Thanks so much, Amy. It's a new learning curve for me . . .

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  4. Kelly, if I was sitting across the table from you I'd share the same hard won wisdom--give yourself permission to take time to 'figure things out' ('cause we're always in that process) and 2) relish the process and the product of your project "Chicken Scratch."
    You are a gift and you have many to give away. I will be praying for you and cheering for you from frozen-ish Washington. And hooray! now it's February.

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