Ever have a moment when you wonder "If I died tomorrow"...kind of thought? What comes after that thought and summation of our lives? I think about this constantly. And my spiritual yardstick for this is, Did I Learn To Be Loving. I go through my interactions and more importantly my thoughts as an assessment for this daily.
My human-ness mucks it up a lot. When I go back and ask myself "did I learn to be loving?" I realize that has to include asking that question about myself. Self-forgiveness has proven to be more of a challenge than forgiving others. On Valentines Day I felt this deeply. I chose to be with someone who did not show up in a way I felt was loving. I do not blame them now though. They were just being who they are all those years. And more true now, they were showing up in a way that was a mere reflection of how I truly saw myself. Now, I take responsibility for knowing this and my decision to stay year after year after year. And still, it is hard to forgive myself for taking that path. It comes up in the oddest ways. Now that I know I am most likely too old to have more children, I judge myself for putting myself in the position of feeling so depleted in my 30's that more children sounded frightening. Or, having bad credit in my 40's because of a short sale. So now I am a single mother, a renter, have bad credit and am climbing out of a self devised hole. Or could it be that I see the light after getting pushed off a cliff in my late 30's. And now I am like a precious new child entering into the world and all of its experiences and ready now for experiencing love and acceptance that I was not ready for before. And there in that place is a profound amount of gratitude I have for things falling apart so I could learn lessons about learning to be loving. That just happened to be what mine looked like. Now I sense that the set up of our lives and each of our paths are to do just this; learn to love. And the constructed story lines are different for all of us; war, poverty, injustice, abuse, abandonment, oppression, addictions. All lead us to the same place; learning to be more loving.
Last night I watched for the first time, the movie Out of Africa. First, I fell even more in love with Meryl Streep. But, I thought about the adventure, heartache and lessons one might learn picking up their life and just following a dream like in that movie. So in one way I could be mad at myself for choosing not to do that in my prime "30's" out of fear, or feel grateful that now I am in my 40's and can get down to business. Honestly it fluctuates depending on the day. And once someone chooses the path of "Did I Learn To Be Loving" all moments matter, all interactions matter, all choices matter, including the ones based on how I feel about myself. I hold myself accountable for how my life is playing out, not others. And I will say, it is easier to hold others accountable. That abusive husband, that mean boss, that abandoning mother, that oppressive dictator, that surgeon who messed up, the drunk driver, the bacteria that caused illness, the fire that destroyed everything, the storm that made the tornado.
But, I am not to go back to that old way. And I am deeply grateful to have the world as a perfectly put together teacher, down to the molecule atom and quark. Nothing is random in the world of Did I Learn To Be Loving.
So I am only 41 and I have a world that is conspiring for my wholeness. And if it took 38 years to come to that, I am grateful.
This recipe is a perfect light winter dish. Radicchio and Butternut squash are both readily available. I like how the bitter of the the radicchio compliments the sweet, warm taste of the butternut squash and the expansive flavor of the cumin oil.
I added chopped preserved lemon to the butternut squash to kick it up a few notches. It came out brilliant. A fancy, flavorful vegan dish that it spectacular enough to be a main dish or dainty enough to be a side dish.
I regularly roast a butternut squash to have on hand. I eat it plain or with salads or make into a soup. You could use any winter squash in this recipe however. I happen to have had cooked butternut squash in my fridge waiting to be discovered in a new dish!
Butternut Squash and Preserved Lemon Stuffed Radicchio with Cumin Oilmakes 4 servings
2 cups cooked butternut squash
3 heaping teaspoons finely chopped preserved lemons
6-8 radicchio leaves
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbls olive oil
In a coffee or spice grinder, grind the cumin and red pepper. In a small bowl, put the spices and 2 Tbls of olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Mash butternut squash with a fork in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and finely chopped preserved lemons. Using about 1 heaping tablespoon for each radicchio leaf, roll up the spoonful of butternut squash mixture in a radicchio leaf and set seam side down in a oven proof pan that has a small drizzle of olive oil in it.
Drizzle cumin oil over the stuffed radicchio leaves and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Carefully set stuffed radicchio leaves on a serving platter and spoon the cumin olive oil on top.