Thursday, January 13, 2011


Conversations are good, no?

I just love them.

Tonight? Was book club night.

We read The Alchemist which was not a big hit with anyone. I really liked it though. Alot. Not the style of the story (it is a fable, which does not equal a novel) nor his style of writing necessarily (Paulo is Brazillean and it was originally written in the Portuguese.) (Last month we read Cry the Beloved Country which was written by a South African male. His style, as well, was a stretch for some of us.) (And by the way, LOOKIT us! Reading books written by Non North Americans and Non English. These past two months, while reading these books, I've thought of Raych's challenge to herself  and felt a little bit proud of our varied book choices.) (By the way, Raych? I thought the link on your Merry Auld Lang post ("read outside my comfort zone and Read It Well") would take me to your Racist Button post and it totally didn't.  Just sayin.)

ANYwayzzz... and this is mostly for any of my book club friends who might be reading this (or anyone else who has read the book) ... do you remember that song, "Refiner's Fire"? Welllll. That's what I think alchemy is. Heating up something (over a fire) for a long long time until it turns to gold, pure gold.
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my Master
Ready to do Your will

And ... when we hit rough patches in life, or come to a difficult situation along our path, it's where we are refined. We can't move on til we've learned our lesson.

A few years ago, when my rough patch was children going nuts, parents on death's door, church closing, economy failing, blah, blah, blah ... a young friend of mine told me she'd mentioned my situation to her young husband. His response? "Wow, someone's being refined in the fire."

Forget that I totally loved his take on things, (his wisdom so to speak) and that I was totally glad he married my friend. His comment put everything in perspective (this difficult situation is a bump in my journey and I needed to learn a lesson here in preparation for the next leg of the trip.) This was part of the refining process. It's not for forever. I needed to take the time to learn something, and learn it well, then be prepared to move on.

In the book, The Alchemist, (Alchemist = the guy who knows how to heat lead over a fire so that it turns to gold) (So, then, the Alchemist = the Refiner?)  helps a young shepherd boy on his journey. And this shepherd boy? Well, I was simply inspired by the way he embraced all his refining-by-fire moments. He knew he should learn something - when say, all his money was stolen and he was in a foreign country by himself. The key for me? He did it cheerfully. With anticipation. He saw it as an opportunity to become more refined.

THIS lesson is incredibly timely for me.
Both personally and professionally I hit a bump in the past 48 hours.
I have to learn something new. I can't move forward unless I do.

Can I say I'm grumpy about it?
I'm dragging my heels. I'm complaining. Whining.
The refiner's fire is heating up and I'd rather stay a lump of lead, thankyouverymuch, than do the work it takes to being one step closer to shiny and golden.

Thinking is hard work.
Learning takes energy.
And besides. Can I share something here?
I've had a bladder infection for 10 days and could only see the doctor about it yesterday. You try being excited about refinement when your bladder is screaming "pee! Go now! And again! NOW" and then a few minutes later, "Hello? Go pee! RUN!" etc.

I haven't had a bladder infection for 13 years. And last Monday, when I recognized the symptoms, I was like, "Really? I thought I was too old for this nonsense..." I called the doctor and got a busy signal EVERY SINGLE DAY for FOUR freakin days. On Friday I just dropped by the office to make an appointment; forget the phone. I mentioned my frustration, and she mentioned to me that they only 'service the phones' (ie ANSWER them) for 2 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the afternoon 3 days a week. The other two days, they just answer in the mornings.

I shared my issue with her and all the other patients in the waiting room, hoping she'd let me pee in a cup right then and there.

She had no time for that. The earliest they could see me was Tuesday. So that meant, well, that meant a weekend of discomfort and a need to be near a bathroom.

Who wants to be refined under those conditions?
Those are EXACTLY the kind of conditions that make this whole situation a refining process? If it wasn't for the challenges compounded on top of each other exactly when we can least handle it, there would be no fire?

But I still am not embracing the learning curve I'm at the bottom of.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Book Club Wednesdays
2. Books.
3. Fables.

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