Like most things in my life, my religious background is…entertaining. I was raised Episcopalian. I attended Catholic school from 6th-12th grade. Meanwhile, every Easter we traveled to an island where we attend the First Union African Baptist Church. When it came time to send my kids to preschool, we chose to send them to the local Jewish Synagogue. I have stories of accidentally attending the Spanish Christmas Eve Mass with my grandmother, as well as tales of shopping for gefilte fish and horseradish for the preschool Seder. So, when I had an epiphany while preparing spaghetti squash one day, I was taken aback.
As a student of Art History, I am familiar with the extreme hypocrisies of religious institutions (seriously just google the words art and pope). After one too many stories, I had sworn off organized religion. I am embarrassed to admit that I have used the phrase “I’m more spiritual than I am religious” on more than one occasion. When I had kids, my sudden call to explore my faith surprised me.
I was having “one of those days”. I was tired, and frustrated with everything and everyone. I had just finished the wonderful, relaxing experience of taking an infant and a toddler to the grocery store. Now I was faced with the task of getting both them and the trunk full of groceries up the stairs and into our second-floor apartment. As I unpacked the bags I lifted a small spaghetti squash into the air. At that time, it was not something that usually made it into my shopping cart, but I had decided to be adventurous and try out a new recipe.
What a funny vegetable, spaghetti squash. Honestly, it’s a pain to prepare. It is not one of those things that you can throw in the oven and have ready for dinner in a half hour. It’s sold as an alternative to pasta, but it’s not fooling anyone. I’ll take actual noodles any day. Yet, as I stood in the kitchen cradling the silly yellow gourd, my mind started racing. Who came up with this thing? What ancestor picked up the first spaghetti squash and said I know! Let’s heat this baby up! And did they think when they opened it to find it’s mushy, stringy insides? It’s fascinating to me! (Read about the origins of spaghetti squash here, if you are a nerd like I am)
Too often, we focus on huge answers to prayer, and miraculous moments. They start to overshadow the everyday wonders. When we are trapped in the cycle of schedules, and work, and family, and friends it is easy to forget just how magical this life really is.
My challenge for you is this: search for the magic in the ordinary. Maybe it’s a song you haven’t listened to in a while, or a tree outside your office window that you’ve never paused to consider. Whatever it is, I hope that it can be a reminder of the good in this crazy world. It’s hard, and tedious, and often unrewarding. But when those thoughts start to weigh me down, all I have to do is pause, remember the spaghetti squash, and life becomes a bit more joyous.