"I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Some of my favorite moments are those around a table, sharing life with new friends, old friends and those I care for most deeply. Whether it’s my table, a table at a coffee shop or even a make-shift table on a blanket either at the beach or on a patch of grass somewhere. This morning the table was at a local coffee shop and my company was a sweet friend of many years. We caught up on life, what the kids are doing, and upcoming plans for the fall. Then the conversation turned to deeper things. We started to explore the idea of what life could look like if we decided to be present instead of perfect.
Since that meeting this morning my thoughts keep swirling around this concept. Whose idea of perfect are we trying to live up to? What voices are we listening to? What are we trying to prove? What would happen if we stopped, or slowed down to a pace that felt less like a high-speed chase all day, every day? What if we decided to make an intentional effort to cut out some of the noise and motion and create margin for quiet and stillness? Then we can begin to ask ourselves what fuel are we accepting that truly isn’t filling us in the way we need to be filled? To decide what matters most and then begin to invest in those things.
For me I’m continually reminded that my investment needs to focus on the condition of my own heart and the people I love. And whatever makes me less able to connect with the things that matter, need to be shown the door. What if we decided we wanted less of everything, less stuff, less rushing, less proving, less pushing. Making space for silence, stillness and Sabbath. So that we can feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious. Slowing down long enough to notice the ache within that is longing for something more.
As I look forward to the fall season, my desire is to have a life marked by quiet, connection and simplicity. To be intentional about making room for these things, not needing to fill every hour of every day. To have a peace that defines my days, a settledness, a groundedness. It takes time to rebuild a life that’s the right size, full of the things you’re called to, emptied of the rest. I’m learning bigger is not always better.
A reminder for me about simplicity, and gentle rhythms of life is the “bringing on” of fruits especially the most fragile fig. Firm specimens can be ushered into a state of ripeness in a warm room, the fruit set well apart on a plate. I take pleasure in checking them every day- a sniff, a caress of their delicate velvet skin and a watchful eye. A fig is ready when it has a bead of nectar at its eye and the skin is bulging. It’s almost as if the pressure of the ripe flesh within is too much for the skin. Eaten warm, the flesh, seeds, and juice as a whole give pleasure to the senses. This perfect fruit should probably be eaten in a quiet, respectful moment.
The further I go on this journey I’m realizing that my life doesn’t need to look impressive on the outside. It has though become much more joyful on the inside, where it matters most. -Shannon
Fresh Figs with Vanilla Crème Fraiche
4 very ripe figs, halved or quartered depending on the size
8 oz. crème fraiche
½ vanilla bean
Handful of roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Fleur de sel (or another type of flaked salt)
In a small bowl, place the crème fraiche and the caviar from the vanilla bean. Stir well. Divide the crème fraiche among four glass jars. Place the a quartered fig in each and then top with roasted hazelnuts. Drizzle over maple syrup and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.