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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When God Closes a Door He Opens a Window


A peach is ripe when slightly soft. A melon is ready when its perfume fills a room. And, milk has a “sell-by” date. But, matters of the heart are not so simple. How do we know when we should turn right instead of left, or when we should keep fighting and when we should look for a new direction? We were born into this world without an instruction manual or even a legend (like on a map) to decipher the signs that propel us on our path.

Many of us are familiar with the expression, “When God closes a door he opens a window.” Sometimes, though, he doesn’t just open a window, he rips the roof right off what we thought was possible, making way for something far better.

The Caribbean
Last night I dreamed I was applying to universities and had been rejected from every single one. However, hidden underneath the pile of rejection letters, I found a small envelope offering me a free ride to a school in the Caribbean, even though I hadn’t even sent in an application. In my dream, when I went to visit the tropical island that was home to the university, as I stepped off the plane, I inhaled the scent of plumeria and heard the gentle sea breeze rustling the palm fronds, and I realized that this far surpassed the experience I would have had at the other schools.

This dream was not totally out of the blue. Eight years ago, nearly to the day, I applied to PhD programs in French literature at Stanford and Berkeley. I didn’t particularly have a burning desire to be an academic or even a professor, but up until that point I’d either been in school or teaching school since the age of five, so it seemed like a logical step after receiving a masters degree in French Cultural Studies at Columbia University.

I still remember exactly where I was standing when I read the rejection letters.

Enjoying an afternoon hike in Switzerland
Now, when I look back on this, I’m filled with so much gratitude. That thin piece of paper that said, “we regret…blah…blah” opened the door to a completely different life. I quit my job, moved to Switzerland, and began to step out of my comfort zone.

A PhD in French literature at Berkeley and Stanford generally take seven to nine years, which means that just about now I’d be receiving my degree. When I look back on the myriad experiences I’ve enjoyed, the people I’ve met, and the personal growth I’ve had, it seems hard to imagine that had I been accepted at one of these schools, I would still be wedged into a collegiate office analyzing Sartre and Camus. I have no doubt I would have been satisfied had this been my life, but I don’t think I would have been particularly happy. I just didn’t know it at the time. Thank goodness the powers that be—either the people in the admissions office or the Almighty himself—knew to send me in another direction.

If you’d asked me back then if I thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now, in a million years, I wouldn’t have guessed that this would be my life. And, you know what? This is so much better than what I’d dreamed up for myself eight years ago.

My life is so much better than I could have dreamed
This is not the first time this has happened. Often when I dream of my future, I’m stuck within the confines of what I already know. Even when I dream big, it’s still based on a present version of myself. It’s only when I’m willing to let go of the reins and ride the wave of life that I can end up somewhere so much more miraculous than I could have ever imagined.

Although I’m still mired in my search for love and don’t yet have the luxury of hindsight, I imagine ten years from now I’ll look back and think, Thank God things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, because this is so much better. The challenge, however, is being willing to let go enough so that when doors keep closing, God can swoop in and rip off the roof, or at the very least open a window.

What in your life is better because you didn’t get what you thought you wanted? How would your future be different if you allowed for alternate routes?
 
****
                                          Rainy Day Soup


I love grocery shopping, but sometimes I get so caught up in work that my cupboards get pretty bare. Opening the refrigerator on those days can be disheartening, especially when I’m really hungry. However, as though God has opened a window, when I look deeper into the inner sanctum of my kitchen, I can usually find ingredients for a hearty soup. And soup always feels so satisfying and nurturing. One of the great things about making soup is that some of the best creations happen when I let go of the need for my soup to turn out a particular way, and I give in to the contents of my fridge. This is a delicious soup for a rainy day. Use whatever you have on hand and see what culinary magic you cook up!

Serves 8

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
1 whole celery, chopped
½ green cabbage, rough chopped
1 large bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
10 cups water
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup lentils
salt and pepper, to taste


In a large stockpot (at least 6 quarts) over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile chop the carrots and celery and add them to the pot. Chop the cabbage and parsley and add them to the pot as well. Stir frequently to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Add the diced tomatoes, water, and cider vinegar, and another small pinch of salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high. Once you attain a gentle boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and gently simmer for about an hour. Add the lentils, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. Add salt to taste. Enjoy on a cozy rainy or snowy day!




40 comments:

  1. Meadow, so well put. I know that for myself, when things are denied me, something so much better awaits me! How great that you have learned this at such a young age.
    As for recipes, I got a new VitaMix the other day which I love. I made a soup last night in it per a recipe and it was truly horrible. Had I stuck to my intuition and added what I wanted instead of being tied to the recipe as written I believe it would have been at least palatable! Next time I'll try your rainy day soup! xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an awesome post Meadow. Right after college, the logical step for me seemed to be to acquire a corporate type job and move up the ladder at a design firm. Because my degree was in printmaking and not design focused I was not getting hired. Anywhere. The winter following graduation I (thankfully!) discovered and fell in love with a decorative arts graduate program within one week of the application deadline. That moment was certainly divinely timed, because my life afterward has become something I never dreamed of--something way better :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jacquelyn,
    What a wonderful story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it. It's amazing how many wondrous events are the result of doors closing. Thank you! Plus, it sounds like you have a job that you love and you get to be creative. I love it!
    Meadow

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is such a wonderful post. I'm hoping to move from Washington state to Colorado in about 6 months. I don't really have a plan I just know it will work out where ever I end up. I was very closed to the idea when my husband proposed the move several months ago, but it now seems right. Perhaps it was a door I was trying to force close whilst god had already opened the windows? My very good friend, and co-worker, are going to make soup at the office tomorrow. We are lucky enough to have a full kitchen in our building and flexible work hours.
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-perfect-pot-of-primal-soup/#axzz2E24lXdaP
    So excited about receiving my copy of your new book. <3

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Meadow,

    Yes, I knew that I had really changed my philosophy when I wondered "what went right after that job interview?"(I did not get the job).
    Just a minor bend in the road...
    I have faith that this will lead me towards a much bigger and richer experiences.
    What a beautiful experience you had living in Switzerland!

    My goodness, we have a point in common: we both have M.As in French and we both decided not to do a PhD. and be out starting life outside the ivory Academic tower!
    I also went to Europe and am still living here after 20 years...

    Life paths are beautiful if they are not all straight and perfect...
    Step out of the lines!!

    Peace and joy to you today and everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Meadow, this soup is delicious! I made a big pot, added some chicken to it and froze a few portions. I'm enjoying one of the leftovers now! Its nourishing, tangy and almost feels cleansing. Love it! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Meadow, what an inspirational piece and life! The soup is yummy - perfect for a bitterly cold day here in NY and cloudy internal landscape.
    With love and thanks, Judy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you so much! Stay warm!!! I wish you an internal landscape filled with joy, sunshine, and bright billowing clouds.
      Love, Meadow

      Delete
  8. I stumbled upon your blog in my search for a greater understanding of my need for closure as well as my hope that God will open a window or better yet, blow my roof off as you claim. Thank you for the encouragement in both realms (career path and the soup window). I totally relate to the empty kitchen and I love cleaning out my freezer and creating soup. I might just have to share your site on my blog today! Thanks again for the encouragement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nellie,

      It's such a joy to connect with you! Thank you for your sweet comment. May God/Spirit blow the roof right off what you thought was possible. I'm holding you in my thoughts!

      Thank you,
      Meadow

      Delete
  9. Hello, Meadow...we've never met (which I suppose is not that unusual since you are an internet blogger) but I want you to know what an encouragement this particular post has been to me. I just happened to attempt a Google search today for the saying "when God closes a window..." and your blog post was the first thing that popped up. I am in a MAJOR life transition and facing a crossroads of epic proportion. The timing of stumbling upon your post as actually a miraculous answer to prayer. Thank you for your words, for sharing of yourself and your life's journey. As they say, you never know who you will impact or how far your message will reach. Warmest regards from Lisa in Seattle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa,

      What a joy it is to connect with you!! Bummer...I just missed you in Seattle. I was in Seattle a few weeks ago speaking at the East West bookshop. I was there for the snow! I'm holding you in my thoughts. May your MAJOR life transition bring new adventures that far surpass anything you would have ever dreamed possible. I'm sending you huge hugs!!

      Love,
      Meadow

      Delete
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