A cookie jar is an iconic staple in any real American home. It stands for all those things that are sweet and good and joyful and free. Especially to someone who has a well-endowed sweet tooth. (That would be me.) Especially when that jar is filled with chocolate chip cookies made with real butter and extra chocolate chips! No nuts allowed. That’s an entirely different cookie that we’re talking about.
I find myself dismayed to realize that my life has been an empty cookie jar for a while. And I have to say, I do resent it.
My cookie jar elder life was filled with a calm yet energetic spirit, joyful creative work that I poured myself into, a rich spiritual life and the freedom to follow any road that promised to grow my elderhood in any fascinating direction. And not that long ago. Just last winter.
Then you know what happened. Someone stole all my cookies and left the jar. And took the extra bag of chocolate chips in the pantry besides! Someone named Pan Demic, son of the COVID clan, the one who’s always in trouble. An embarrassment to the family.
I haven’t been the same since. None of us has.
The question is before me, though: so what? So what if I am not the same Martha that I was six months ago: generally calm, usually energetic, loving my creative pursuits that nourished my eager spirit, spiritually rich, free to be whatever I wanted to be.
Which begs the question: If I am not the same Martha that I was six months ago, what lives in me now that I can bake up into a new “something” that can fill my empty cookie jar with some new sweetness to love?
I’m not an exercise lover, but I have been walking and doing some exercises on DVD, all to strengthen a 79-year-old body that has lost some muscle mass and with it…strength. So – I add some sweet discipline. And it is delicious to feel so much better – and stronger already.
I’m not zeroed in on my calligraphy and watercolor painting these days like I have been for a year. It seems to take too much mental energy for a non-artist. So – I added a new creative effort: drawing. Just small things. Don’t want to go overboard…but they’re happening. And they please me. My little wildflowers are sweet.
I’m not thrilled by cooking, but I learned that I have to up my protein intake. So – I changed my list for groceries, making new cards that tell me how much protein is in those lovely high-pro new things. And I’m cooking more. And I remember that protein likes to fill you up! Sweet!
I’m varying my meditations and challenging myself by doing weekly Facebook Live devotions for my church. The search for meaning is sweet and satisfies the restless times that love to hover.
And the freedom I used to have? Of course, it’s been frustratingly limited. But I have found, here and there, that if I let go of the fear of everything, I am finding a new kind of courage. And courage is freeing because I’m back in charge.
That cookie jar of my life still sits there, but it’s getting filled up little by little. With goodies that melt on my taste buds and bring on those yummy sounds that make me smile.
So there it is: whatever lies empty in our pandemic lives is just waiting for new things to fill it up.
These days of waiting are not quiet and empty. They are huge and inviting and promising if we take a chance and take a look for something new and amazing to show up. It doesn’t have to be something big. Just a little something here and there. They add up, and life looks different when we notice them. And welcome them in.
And I’m okay with that! Because it’s all grace!