A couple of nights ago, the four of us sat around the scratched and worn dining room table, a bounty of food before us.
A huge bowl of sticky white rice sat beside a stack of nori sheets. Slices of avocado, cucumber and carrots decorated one cutting board, while thinly sliced raw salmon and fresh-from-the-frying-pan tempura shrimp decorated another. A bottle of soy sauce, a jar of sesame seeds and a small bowl of water completed the picture, for this was sushi night, after all.
We got to work, making and rolling and cutting our creations, breathing life into the kinds of food that sustain us, that feel good in our bodies long after we’ve popped them into our mouths.
At one point, when our five-year old son took a bite of his sushi roll, his head lolled backwards toward the base of his neck, eyes closed in utter food ecstasy.
“It’s like eating a bite of joy!” he finally exclaimed, wide smile spread across his face.
It didn’t get any better than this, not for him, not for me. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to keep on feeding him sushi – you want sushi, baby? Have more sushi! For this – all of this, the food, the creating, the time together – is something I’ll vow to do, over and over again, especially if it births joy in his little body.
Of course, it also made me think about those big and little things I tend to do – those things that spark joy and change me, those things that cause me to learn and try new things, those things that help me see the world differently than I did before.
And really, isn’t that what learning to color outside the lines is all about?
After all, if there’s one phrase I’ve uttered more than anything else in the last year, it’s this: Listen, learn and listen some more.
It’s the directive I give when it comes to entering into and engaging in conversations of justice, race and privilege.
It’s the invitation I give when it comes to spiritual direction, when new ideas of faith and religion are presented to us, ideas of God that might feel different from everything we’ve ever known.
And, it’s the imperative I give when it comes to parenthood and marriage, friendships and relationships – because when it comes to dealing with real, messy human beings just like me, we honor one another by learning from one another and leaning into the stories of our lives.
All of these I extend to myself, just as much as I extend to other people, alongside generous helpings of grace. After all, when we hear a sentence like, “It’s like eating a bite of joy!” we can’t help but want to know and learn more and enter in to life even more.
In that way, there’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing for awhile now:
In 2020, we’ll listen, learn and listen some more to a myriad voices around us.
Each writer will take that prompt, “Listen, Learn and Listen Some More,” and fill in the blanks for us. Whatever it is that they want us to hear, we’re going to listen. Whatever story they want to invite us into or lesson they want to teach us, we’re going to pull out a pen and a notebook, so we can start to learn. I’m guessing we’ll feel challenged, just as we’ll feel encouraged …but all the time, we’re going to continue to pound home that mantra as we put into practice learning how to color outside the lines.
So, spread the word. If you know a writer who might want to join the movement, pass this blog post on to them.
Also, although I cannot pay individual writers, at the end of the year, I will donate $10 to one of the following non-profit organizations (as chosen by that week’s writer):
Each of these organizations has been instrumental in helping me understand what it means to listen, learn and listen some more, and I can’t wait for each of you to get to know them as well.
So, what say you?
Let us enter into listening, learning and listening some more (the joy of sushi and all) together.
Interested in writing for us this year? Message me through my website for details!