Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Great Expectations

(WARNING: Philosophical Musings ahead...)

When we drove up to Maine for vacation last week, I brought along some pretty big expectations. Not of me or Steve or my sister or her family - I knew we'd have fun just hanging out and making each other laugh (Meg, by the way, gets the credit for the comment in Monday's post about how that turkey vulture must have sensed our hopes dying - she's easily the funniest person I know). Instead, the "Great Expectations" I had were of God. I needed to hear from him on a few specific matters, and I fully believed that if I was going to drive five hours into the mountains to meet with him, the least he could do was show up with some answers.

Yep, that's me - all reverence and piety.

On our first morning on lake Mooselookmeguntic, I walked down to the water with coffee balanced precariously in one hand, Bible and notebook in the other, and sat down on one of those folding chairs, waiting to HEAR FROM THE LORD. I prayed something to the effect of, "Okay God. I'm ready for my epiphany!" then waited for a flurry of activity to hit my spiritual in-box as God downloaded his directions and plans for my future.

At first, I heard nothing. I stared up at the fog-covered mountains, waiting for wisdom to come. Then the wind picked up and waves lapped noisily against the shore, and some bird started chirping - incessantly - from the birch tree over my head. A chipmunk ran by. I wondered if one of these was a sign - you know, if symbolically "the tide was coming in in my life," or "wisdom would be chirped forth from above." But I gave up on this silly idea before I got to the chipmunk; it seemed like one more example of the many ways I try to shove things that aren't what I wanted into a shape that doesn't suit them at all.

A day or so later, God finally checked in. His profound message? "Live." He told me to put down my pen and paper and go play Jenga with my nephew. He told me to challenge my sister to ping-pong ("In this game, we're all losers!" we exclaimed with glee as our flailing shots bounced off the ceiling, the walls, and the dog). He told me to engage in some marital relations with my handsome hubby, float in the lake until my fingers pruned, and then read a book that wasn't something I could write off on my tax return as "research."

Now I'd love to report that all this living ultimately gave me the answers I was looking for that first morning on the dock; that I returned home with a new confidence about which direction to head off in as I wrestle with whether there will be a Book #2, or how many dinner plates will be set around the Ryan family table in the future. But nope. That's not what happened. And yet in some strange way, all this living bolstered my great expectations of God, trusting that he has answers to these questions, and I'll know when I know that I know.

Until then, I've got a bunch of laundry to do, all caked with sand and mud from a lake in the middle of nowhere.

It's time to live.

What are your great expectations?


Stacy said...

Poor dog. How'd she get to be ping pong casualty?

Trish Ryan said...

Stacy - my sister and I have a longish history of canine casualties in our attempts at sports. Meg gave up tennis after the great ball-on-the-nose episode of 1993 (fortunately, our Golden Retriever was quick to forgive and forget). And before that, our beagle was in almost constant danger as I flung batons all across the yard in the hopes of someday becoming a famous majorette.

THAT DOG is rather used to this after so many years of being with our family. To be honest, I think she was just grateful we were playing ping pong and not tossing horseshoes....

LEstes65 said...

Seriously, you never cease to crack me up. "Yep, that's me - all reverence and piety." I totally hear you on that.

My great expectation right now? Just sitting here waiting to see what God does NEXT! He's totally blowing my mind lately.

ellesappelle said...

That's hilarious - but I do it all the time too. "Right, God, now where were we? Oh yes - reveal yourself to me!"

My great expectations of God? That he'll keep forgiving me. And that he'll come back for us all soon.

Swishy said...

Oh, I have so many great expectations. I am sort of notorious for them :)

I think living is EXCELLENT counsel. Sometimes things have a way of making themselves clearer that way.

L Sass said...

Your ping pong skills sound much like mine. Wanna play??

My great expectation? Is that at some point, all the "work" of life ends and the fun begins. First it was, "If I get a great new job" then "If I get a serious boyfriend," now it's "If I get into grad school" and "If we get married."

It turns out that every time I reach one of these milestones, my expectations have a way of changing and evolving.

Em said...

you are one of the only people that cause me to laugh at loud, along with my sister, and the Arrested Development series:)

...great expectations? that is an excellent question. I'm trying to weed through my most spiritual answers and give a truthful, raw answer: .....sleep!!! I'd love for my newborn to sleep through the night so that I can sleep through the night....tonight:) hahaha

And, you know the usual, to have the wisdom to raise three beautiful girls that love Jesus and never rebel, but have an overwhelming desire to serve God and be used to build His kingdom, along with their amazing, ever faithful and adoring husbands who know how to, and are amazing spiritual leaders, while Gavin and I live a long, healthy life as in love with each other the day we die, as we are right now.

..but other than that, just sleep:)