Notes from Jan

Seeds for Thought

September 29, 2022

My mind said, “Steamed fish with butter and herbs” but my heart (emotional not physical) cried, “Steak and potatoes.” Steak won. One deep breath and taste transported me to DeKalb, Illinois, age nine. It happened Sundays after church. We walked into the parsonage and the aroma of Mama’s roast beef with potatoes and carrots said, “Welcome home.” Dessert showed up as lemon, apple or cherry pie.

Until last night, I’d forgotten the taste of beef, corn fed, hormone and additive free. And steak, more like a small roast, fed three of us. We, a group of ten, sat at table in Tuscany last evening, enjoying a four hour meal, an Italian specialty. Yes, after time with Lily in Paris, I’m in Italy with Heather, my daughter and some of her friends. Mine, too, this mix of men and women from California. Enveloped can be a loving word and how I feel when in their company.

But today I chose solitude. Since I needed time for stillness. So while Heather and friends soak in a hot spring, I’m perched on a hill in Tuscany, overlooking a valley towards another mountain. It’s windy and sweater weather. But I’m enjoying the porch, laptop situated on a rustic table and I on a bench. Who’d have thought I’d find the internet out here. But not inside, where thick walls stand guard against modernity. Our room’s tucked inside a house built in the sixteen hundreds. Imagine that! I’ve landed in a place where organic goes beyond a movement.

Pausing to pop a grape into my mouth, I’m reminded of words from Garrison Keillor’s 9/28 post. “Writing prose is a form of gardening.” Today it’s about seeds. The green seeded grape’s from a nearby vineyard. I marvel at the gift of simply sitting and savoring one grape at a time, like plucking a word. A small pile of seeds grows next to the bowl of grapes. We’re more into seedless back home. Seeds take time.

And that’s what I’m doing today, I suppose. Sifting for seeds, like last night’s steak and potatoes revealed. Although, when I shared the story with Trevor, he said something about church, suggesting the meal was the better part of Sunday. And that’s true for most folks today, according to polls on declining interest in religion and church. Which I get. Attempts to graft politics onto Christianity reaps consequences.Thereby, producing fruit unfit for the soul’s deepest hungers.

As a result, I’ve watched too many friends and family distance themselves from church and religion. Maybe it would help if we simply brought back Sunday dinner. What if we took time to envelope folks unlike us to come to the table, as Heather’s friends welcome me? And simply allowed time to sit and savor life grape by grape, growing a pile of seeds together as we share life, tangible reminders of common hungers, soul connections and transformational possibilities within a single seed. Or word.

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  • Reply Alyssa Arnold September 29, 2022 at 10:15 am

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts, Jan, and this time you transported me to Italy (despite being on a train in UT)! Thanks for the visuals and the reminders.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 29, 2022 at 10:35 am

      Well, dear Alyssa, we are miles apart but not in heart. Thank you for coming with me, via word pictures, to Italy. It’s a soul-satisfying place for me today. But I suspect, you and Andrew have found such places in Utah.

  • Reply Kristen Reid September 29, 2022 at 10:17 am

    i miss you momo!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 29, 2022 at 10:38 am

      Oh, my almost- like-a- daughter- Kris, you would love it here. But I’m sure you’d have been with Heather at the hot springs today and not on this wind swept hilltop with me. But tonight we’d be together, enjoying one of those 4 hour Italian dinners…grape by grape. Hugs to you and all the family. As I tell my Grands, “See you soon but never soon enough.”

  • Reply Laura September 29, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Amazing that you found time and energy to post while on your whirlwind journey. Bask in every moment and thanks for your picture words that always ultimately glorifies Him!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 29, 2022 at 10:49 am

      Well, it hasn’t felt like a whirlwind, even though we’ve moved from France to Italy and will return to France tomorrow. These days have been sacred and restorative, even with some jet lag. I love being here, where time seems to slow. And I enjoy sipping wine, savoring time with some of the people I love, as well as meeting strangers and finding them friends in waiting. But then, you know this well, my dear travel guru and “Gordon girl” friend.

  • Reply dale September 29, 2022 at 10:51 am

    Thanks Jan, you tapped all my senses. The main message of Jesus is “follow me.” As Dallas Willard said when asked why he follows Jesus, he said, “who else did you have in mind?” Peter came to the same conclusion and it is the only one I can imagine. Enjoy your time and fellowship. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 30, 2022 at 3:39 am

      Thank you, my dear brother Dale. We complicate “follow Jesus” with too many instructions, warnings and conditions. i’m sad about what’s happening within The Church , especially with too many in the evangelical branch in the USA,but not hopeless. God’s not quaking with fear. I just need to keep my eyes on Jesus and less on some of my brothers and sisters who rile me up. Time to grab a grape or two.

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