The empty mugs caught my eye as I flicked off the kitchen light. Hollow ceramic twins with matching tea bags hanging from the rims by an unnaturally white thread. The water in the kettle, once popping with heat, was lukewarm – evidence of multiple interruptions to my usual routine.
Those evening cups of tea represent downtime. A chance to sit with my husband, sip and just “be”. We can talk uninterrupted, catch up on our day or week, flag pending dates to note in our schedules. A day simply doesn’t feel complete without that cup-of-tea long pause.
Those abandoned mugs were a timely reminder that things don’t always turn out as we expect.
As I reader and writer, I know how conditioned we can become to expecting certain things from a story. I recently read a short inspirational work and, with some arrogance, presumed the conclusion from the first sentence. But when the focus shifted to an unexpected end point, I was actually taken aback. How did the author miss the obvious point? Instead, they’d expounded an insightful angle that I’d completely overlooked.
With such expectations engrained, like me and that cup of tea, we can become blinkered to a world of opportunities waiting for us to explore. On this occasion a child needed a bit more mummy–time than usual. Like, an hour more… But an opportunity to meet a need none-the-less.
Most of us are comfortable with routine and having things our way. But sometimes to gain fresh insight we need to be willing to look beyond our expectations and inch away from the familiar. Call it a leap of faith, if you will.
That pretty well sums up 2013. Had someone told me in January where I’d be and what I’d be doing by December, I’d have probably raised an eyebrow and offered a polite smile. Just like reading that story. You can’t be serious? I know how this will go!
Now here I am on the other side. I’ve been unsettled, challenged, and have had to let go of some things I valued highly in my world. A most unexpected insight was how much this experience rattled my identity – who I thought I was and why. What were the true pearls of value in my world; in me? Yet I’ve seen amazing provision along the journey. For each tentative, at times trembling step of faith, I’ve found a path open up before me, even when it seemed I was walking over a cliff edge.
I think the beauty of those less travelled roads is the opportunity that can be found by the wayside. Time to take on a fresh view of things – and self. The potential laced around a new direction. Even when it’s a track we’d rather flash past at highway speeds, I believe that finding ourselves meandering through grassed–over paths forces us to ease off the accelerator and let the cup of reflection rest a little longer in our hands.
Often the path seems to choose us. We may feel led, we may be dragged, but one thing I’ve learned is that there’s always purpose in the journey. Hold the cup. Draw from its warmth.
Inhale the steam of shifting expectations and just “be” for a while.
You’ll be amazed what you can see.