Most Sundays I bake. Primarily so that I have something to offer if someone stops by and because on Mondays all the dishes get cleaned and the house spotlessly tidied so all of the pans and bowls from the day before are not mine to worry about.
I’m actually not all that good at baking but I enjoy the process and the majority of my stuff is edible. My problem comes when I start making substitutions.
Today I was out of butter so rather than the several logical options (half the recipe, drive to store, go ask Amber for half a cup of butter) I made half butter half coconut oil. Then I naturally reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup brown and 3/4 cup white to maybe 1 cup overall. I realised that I’ve been literally doing this recipe wrong every time and using baking powder over baking soda. I changed the powder to baking soda, figuring if I changed everything else I could at least use soda over powder.
It didn’t work.
Well, it did and didn’t at the same time. It spread out and mushed into one large cookie. It cooked quickly and sort of browned as the coconut oil bubbled and made it chewy. I added more flour and tried again. Better. Still not what I was going for. So I went upstairs and asked Amber’s opinion. Came back down with a Pyrex and attempted cookie bars instead of actual cookies. Taste tested yielded all cookies edible… In fact delicious. But they weren’t how I intended them to be.
I wonder how many times we substitute fake things for the real stuff. Laziness, lack of resources, settling, or thinking we can do it on our own and it won’t change the outcome to be too far off from what the original intention was. But what of the good, perfect and acceptable will ? How many substitutions before the end result cannot be salvaged ? Souls are much more high stakes than cookie dough. Life and its path not as forgiving as the treats in the oven.
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
I sat at my dining room table last weekend across from a friend, computer screens up, papers strewn all about and the click click click of our keyboards typing. I didn’t have a mirror, but I can tell you our expressions furrowed with frustration and productivity. I was writing curriculum. I was (am) having a hard time getting into the computer screen the carefully thought out creativity that had turned up in my classroom. But I am working to be complete, not perfect.
If my gaggle of second graders learned something at all this week with their posters about their marble tracks, they learned that consistent results in an experiment don’t always mean the experiment worked. But we weren’t working to have our marble track creations be perfect, we were working for them to be complete.
Well then, what about incomplete and imperfect together? I can attest to the consistency of me being that. What about wanting to write and then a having writers block at the same time ? What about living without water for a week and then when the water comes back on it coincides with one of the most tragic events for the country you’re living in ?
I’ve been thinking about the Sewol ferry disaster and my response to it. I am of course deeply saddened by the fact so many students and teachers were involved. I am living in Jeju , the island where the students were travelling to visit. I am not Korean , so as sad as I am, I can’t begin it imagine the national grief that this ferry sinking has brought to South Koreans. I cannot grief completely or pretend to. I can sit with my students … Who are mostly too young to fully grasp it … And answer their questions about what happened but not why.
I’m really affected by the vice principal who was rescued but then took his own life because of (presumably) guilt. Complete, but not perfect. I don’t even know where to begin with my emotions about that situation. It seems the most tragic to me… Like the girls in the Asiana crash last year who made it off the plane and then died on the Tarmac afterwards. But our life’s, they are this way. Complete but not perfect. Nothing can seem to change that this side of life and death. Can I be content in the way this day began and the way it ended? Can I live the most complete I can, knowing that perfection was never really the goal?
I think I can if I live in between gratitude and grace. That’s the real goal anyway.