Just Add Water

open roadI spend a lot of time driving in silence these days – sometimes by choice (is there a parent on the planet who doesn’t appreciate some quiet time?) and sometimes by mistake (because I have so much noise in my head, it never occurs to me to turn on more).

Years ago, I spent a summer working as a hospital chaplain (part of my seminary education) and developed a friendship with a chaplain/colleague who grew up in eastern Europe. Every day, she’d drink a cup of hot water with her lunch. Every day, I’d wait for her to add something – tea, instant coffee, lemon, honey, hot chocolate mix. Every day, she’d drink it as-is. Plain. Hot. Water.

Eventually I asked her about it. My query was likely accompanied by an expression of incredulity – the kind only a North American can produce (Plain, hot water? How weird!). She, in turn, laughed a little – maybe at my question; maybe at my ridiculous expression – and said, “My lunch provides plenty of flavors for my mouth. I don’t need to add more.”

That’s exactly how my brain feels these days – so much swirling around inside it. The lazy Westerner in me would like to grab my favorite beverage and wash down my meal, with no thought of what I might be missing. But I’ve come to see the wisdom in choosing something that neither masks nor ignores what I’m experiencing. When I tend to the voices (rather than attempt to drown them out) I often find something (and someone) worth listening to.

I’ve always known my life had plenty of flavor. Who knew all I needed to do was add water?

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