Confessing The Things We Cannot Do

“The song of life is born in every soul. But the song we are meant to sing does not come to us whole. It grows in us- louder, stronger, clearer, more fully- over the years until we discover, finally, that our call has been within us all the while.”

Joan Chittister

When looking at my desk you might think I’m a painter. I have mason jars full of pencils, markers, and all sizes of paintbrushes. There is a paper plate I use for mixing my colors and a tin of watercolors along with a couple of finished paintings I’ve done laying on top of my desk.  

But let me just clear up any confusion right now.

I am by no means a painter.  

I’ve gone through many a long stretch where I’ve hoped and wanted to be one though.

With the closing of my little only storefront this week, I am recognizing anew the importance of confessing the things I cannot do.

I know, if I set my heart to it, I could become a fairly decent self-taught watercolor artist.

But I’m addicted to dabbling.

For a season I dabbled in furniture restoration, painting and sanding tables and chairs in my garage. Another time I attempted hand lettering, buying all the expensive pens and watching the video lessons. I’ve also wanted to learn fluent French, get a degree in midwifery, become a photographer, a farmer, a speaker, and a shop owner. Right now, I’m trying to be a homeschooling mother, a gardener- growing my own veggies and flowers, a chicken keeper, and a tea drinker.

But could there be some wisdom in whittling down our wayward passions?

I’ve always secretly scorned people who never felt the need to meddle in so many different projects at once or entertain every idea that comes through their head.

They seem to be content with their limited abilities and even more importantly they are not intimidated by their humanity.

Their life looks worn in and comfortable like the best pair of jeans. They don’t mind showing up in their life every single day.

They are not even slightly envious of those of us who try to wrangle our one million ambitions into our seventy years.

Although I haven’t asked, I bet they found wholeness and joy in shamelessly owning what they cannot do.

There’s no better time than this season of winter to stare down our limitations. With shorter days and longer nights we are reminded once again about the beauty of restraint.

So I’m here playing my few notes with a new found gusto and shyly conceding to that I won’t become the next Picasso even if I did have the time.

For today it means parting with the old cracked paints from my scattered desk. It looks like putting away my collection of brushes for the time being so I can not only see but begin to step into my natural abilities, the unique gifts I’ve been ignoring or only dabbling in at the expense of wanting to be good at everything under the sun.

This practice of accepting my weaknesses and inabilities and mining the treasures within those boundaries feels like I’m settling.

I begin to cringe, that is until I rightly declare the sacredness of settling into my own skin, the often forgotten starting place of our most meaningful adventures.   

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