Cooking Pasta

You shouldn’t overcook your pasta. It’s a common mistake that many people make. Often they cook it until all the water is gone, or until Wheel of Fortune is over, or whatever; but actually a well-cooked pasta takes a precise amount of time and a cook with the patience to watch carefully over the stove. See, pasta is best when it’s al dente, which means the pasta is not completely soft. It should still be firm, with a tiny amount of chewiness to it. According to the pastaologists that’s the ideal texture for consumption.

Sometimes I feel like God is cooking me too long. The logical part of my brain knows he in actuality is carefully tending to the stove, waiting for just the right moment, but the emotional side of me feels overcooked. Let me start with some background info. I started reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller today at work. I’m about three years behind everyone else, and I finally decided to see what all the hype was about. Right now I’m about half way through, and I can hardly put it down. It’s exactly what everyone says about it–it’s a fresh, different perspective that just makes you feel good about God and life. What I love so much about his writing is the way he finds God in the ordinary. It’s not a book on systematic theology. It’s not an exegetical study of a Pauline epistle. It’s just the way God has revealed himself in the things of life. Miller contemplates the ordinary and finds extraordinary glimpses of who God is and how he relates to us.

Typically people who do that well end up writing quaint devotionals, which get printed in books and make you go “hmm,” but never really do anything outside of that. So I’ve been thinking today about how the ordinary things of life can teach extraordinary lessons, and what exactly that extra is that makes the difference, and how it can become more than short devotions. I’ve always been deeply moved by God’s general revelation (nature, more or less), but I think up to this point I’ve been missing a lot of that. At the risk of sounding pantheistic, maybe God does reveal himself in the overcooked pasta. Not that he is that pasta, but I think there’s more to al dente than meets the eye. Call it new-age, transcendental, or whatever else. I call it taking time to ponder the smell of the roses. So over the next however long I feel like, I want to explore the extra in life. I’m not sure what I will find, where I will find it, or what I’ll learn from it; but I’m going to do it anyway. Maybe it will challenge you to do the same.

So I feel like overcooked pasta. That’s because right now things are hard. If you don’t believe me, check out Nate and Maria’s blog, specifically Maria’s June 23 entry. She gives a pretty good overview of how life at the KOA is. Now, work weighs a lot more heavily on them than it does on me, them being managers and all, but her entry will give you a feel for how spectacular working at the kampground really is. For me, it’s not the burden of managing a campground that’s got me down, it’s the burden of being in an unfulfilling job and not seeing the future. It’s waking up every day and being fatigued because I’m not being active like I was back at school; the lack of a best friend coming to the room at night and talking about whatever we needed to; it’s missing the random movie nights, card playing, and coffee drinking with my group of friends. I want the intellectual stimulation of the classroom. I want to strive for excellence with 80 other people in my choir. I want to manage the logistics of staging a thematic chapel tomorrow in the PAC. I want to work with Josh Cash again and have complete confidence and trust in my coworker that I can’t even dream of with my current ones (save Nate and Maria).

YES, I’m learning a lot about life. I’ve expanded beyond the IWU bubble that is so despised by those inside. It’s funny, because I’m feeling some of the pressures of life and being ‘overcooked,’ yet I think in reality it’s the opposite. At IWU, as great as it was and as much as I miss a lot of school, I was soft there. It’s easy to be overcooked at a small Christian school. And now I think God is uncooking me. It’s going to take some hard times to get there, but the end result will be worth it. I look forward to being al dente. But I know that the best things in life sometimes means lots of sucky things to get to them.