“What is in the way is the way.” I don’t know who said this, and can’t even recall where I heard it for the first time, but these words have been echoing through my ears during the current chapter of our renovation project. As I stand in my little cabin today, there is the skeleton of a framed but unfinished wall preparing to contain a bathroom, the promise of light in the form of new electric wires, switches, and conduit, and a view out the back window of wild earth transformed into sloping driveway. There is also the absence of our pantry (taken down in order to prepare for our new bathroom), which has prompted the food and kitchen supplies it once contained to leap into every corner of our living space. Veggies perch precariously atop our toaster oven, a bottle of olive oil has chosen to pair itself with a smattering of electrical supplies strewn across the to-be bathroom floor, and a set of mixing bowls has found its way into my nightstand…rebelliously boycotting the first floor of the cabin entirely. Here we sit on the edge of realizing our dream for this little cabin of ours, and yet as I look out across all that is contained within the cabin’s 16X24-foot walls, my joy and excitement are nearly consumed by the fear of being unable to find my way through.
What is this mess? In the process of simplifying my life over this past year, how have I managed to squirrel away 35 bottles of dried spices? I don’t have an oven, and am down to only one functional burner on my trusty Coleman camping stove. What did I think I was going to make? Wake up one morning to find myself blessed with culinary genius (which has evaded me entirely throughout my first thirty years of life) only to discover with shocked disbelief that I had discarded my jar of yellow saffron? I am the girl who once confused cinnamon with cumin. A little less access to spice may do me (an those around me) well.
Whatever the reason for my persistent hoarding of spices, here I sit, surrounded by a sea of my self deconstructed, faced with the decision of where too from here. What better way to face the dark corners of yourself than to have them strewn across your home, free to be seen and trampled upon by the discerning eye of an electrician, a carpenter’s steel toes. The cabin has taught me to let go of so much. To seek water from kind neighbors and the effort of my husband, rather than from a faucet. To trust the light of a candle over the flip of a switch. To blaze a path through the snow with boots and shoes rather than a plow. It is not enough. Still, I continue to cling, to fight the fear of the release into the great unknown, unable to trust. And yet, each time I loosen my grasp I am reminded, yes, of the fear, but also of freedom.
Is the way to abundance really through surrender? I am struck by the impulse to throw it all away- the spices, the furniture- to cast it aside in an effort to disown the chaotic corners of myself, now that they can no longer be hidden. Let the electricians and builders see only the neat, polished version. Jim reads my thoughts, gives me the don’t-you-dare-throw-away-our-home-and-our-bank-account-for-the-sake-of-order look, and I know the answer. It is acting upon it that is the challenge, the cause for hesitation. Here I go, muddling my way through the chaos. Letting it be. Trusting that what is in the way, is the way.