Limits, Capacities, Vocation, and Other “Thingies”

While I might George W Bush a teeny weeny bit harshly for things like... oh, failure to regulate bank lending leading to global economic chaos, torture, prolonged detention of suspects without trial, and a trumped up war (have you seen Google earth lately... where did they hide those weapons of mass destruction again?), I honestly don’t judge him too harshly for saying dumb things when he steps aside from an autocue. (See previous post). The Lord alone knows how many dumb things I’ve said in my time... especially since the acquired brain injury of pregnancy. (I keep waiting for my brain to recover, but am close to giving up hope on that score).

Last year at the supermarket deli, I asked for 5 honey soy and 5 satay kebabs. “Do you mind if they’re in the one packet?” the attendant enquired.

“No, I don’t want them mixed together...” (thinking the sauces would cross-pollinate, so to speak). Then I noticed they were already in two separate plastic bags. “Oh, I don’t mind if they’re in the same... white thing”.


“That would be paper... but since I’ve turned 40 I’ve lost the power to recollect words”.

“That’s all right love. I’m over 50, and it gets even worse.” The kindly attendant replied with a smile. (Kind, although not entirely encouraging on my prospects for memory improvement).

There’s something a little tragic about a mature woman with post graduate qualifications and an above average vocabulary (moi) unable to recall the correct word for paper. I also seem unable to recollect names with embarrassing frequency (an appalling social handicap). There’s something disconcerting about having a high ability to do strategic, big picture, creative thinking, but a terrible difficulty with seemingly simple tasks... like finding keys, or keeping things tidy, or remembering appointments.

However, I’m currently reading “Let Your Life Speak”... a short but wonderfully rich book by Parker J Palmer on the topic of vocation. He writes these encouraging words:

“The God I know does not ask us to conform to some abstract norm for the ideal self. God asks us only to honour our created nature, which means our limits as well as potentials. When we fail to do so, reality happens – God happens – and the way closes behind us....

“The God whom I know dwells quietly in the root system of the very nature of things. This is the God who, when asked by Moses for a name, responded ‘I Am who I Am’ (Exodus 3:14), an answer that has less to do with the moral rules for which Moses made God famous, than with elemental ‘isness’ and selfhood. If, as I believe, we are all made in God’s image, we could all give the same answer when asked who we are: ‘I Am who I Am’. One dwells with God by being faithful to one’s nature. One crosses God by trying to be something that one is not. Reality – including one’s own – is divine, not to be defied but honoured.” (pages 50 – 51)

God does not berate me for my moments of verbal ineptitude, my vagueness, or my failure to find things. They are part of who I am, and are probably the flip side of my capacity to “think large”.

So I write this post in praise of thingies, whatsits, thingumygigs and white things... generic words that probably save space in my brain for higher duties. And even if that is just an appalling excuse for my many vague moments, vague moments are part of who I am. I think it’s time I accepted myself warts and all... just as my loving Father in heaven does.


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