A Word for Something Like Courage
January 2, 2014
Listened to the show Saturday, and it was not bad. It was the middle of the stretch between Christmas and New Year's Eve, a quiet evening at last, and I was deep in thought as I baked up another twelve dozen cookies to serve at church Sunday morning. It might seem a crazy time of year to volunteer to serve coffee and something to go with it to a church congregation, but the Sunday after Christmas is historically a "light" day as attendance goes, plus it has been frightfully cold out there, plus no one else signed up, so why not? You got a little extra in you, might as well put it toward the common good.
Easy to say that now, of course. Saturday night I was scrambling just a bit to get those cookies baked, and I whipped up an extra batch of dough just in case. Lucky for that, because Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, and something in the air brought just about everyone and their Aunt Mabel to church. Once I saw the pews full of people, the kids and I got our back ends to the kitchen and started baking.
Three hours later, the tables were wiped down, the coffee pots rinsed and set up to dry, and the last crumbs swept away. Church kitchen: clean. People: on their way home to enjoy the day. The kids and I: a wee bit tired. But there were enough cookies to go 'round at least twice, and I had a feeling in me that felt something like I feel when I finish shoveling the driveway after a long snowfall. Feels productive. Feels good. Didn't have to be done, but made sense to do it, and more people may have noticed had it not gotten done.
All of this leads to my word for this year, for 2014. "Resolve" worked just right this past year, and I needed a word similar, but with a bit less focus, a little more balance, and a few more layers. A word for moments when opportunity arises, and I'm tempted to say, "Well, I don't know." A word for days when I feel like crap and don't want to get out of bed. A word for times when that anxious feeling creeps up in my chest and I'm given to thoughts of flight, of jumping so high on my trampoline that I catapult myself to the moon. A word for something like courage, but having to do with the people around me and with regard to my own life, pointing to and resting within the most vital part of things. I need to have more of something in my life that lifts up how I move through my life. Something with a little less pressure and a little more...attention to opportunity.
I didn't come up with it; the word came up with me. A few days after serving up all those cookies to a bunch of holiday-worn churchgoers, I woke from a deep sleep with the word echoing in my head, as if someone had spoken it aloud just before I left the Land of Sleep. And I heard it. "Heart." Plain as day. My word for this year. To contemplate and to carry with me for 365 days, until the next word appears. I like "heart." I'll take it. And I'll keep ya posted, even on the crappy days.
Here's a simple recipe to throw together on a cold winter evening for a family snack, or to bring to the neighbors for an evening of cards or conversation. Don't bother with calories; rather, eat in moderation, and enjoy!
Spicy Cheddar and Bacon Chip Dip
½ cup Bacon Mayonnaise (regular mayo works, too)
8 slices bacon, chopped and crisped
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3 scallions, chopped
2 tsp chopped jalapeños
½ cup smoked almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brown bacon in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drain crisp bacon bits on paper towel. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo, Dijon mustard, cheddar, jalapeños, and scallions with cooked bacon.
Transfer to a shallow small casserole or baking dish and bake until golden brown and bubbly at edges (about 15 minutes.) Top with chopped smoked almonds if desired. Serve with your favorite chips, crackers or vegetables. Try serving in a small, hollowed-out sourdough round.