Mar 6, 2013

Neverlands and Promised Lands

An editor from my newspapering days telephoned the other day. My memory snapped like a rubber band back to the newsroom. I could practically hear the crackle of the police scanner over the urgent tapping of computer keys.

A long series of remember-when’s rushed in: the hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election, our in-depth examination of teacher salaries. I recalled how we brought in the Year 2000. A whole army of reporters sat poised at our desks, in case the prognosticators were right about Armageddon—or, gasp!—the possibility that all of the world’s computers would cease to function.

We all survived, and I got to write the lead story telling folks something they already knew by the time the paper hit their doorsteps: They weren’t dead.

Thirteen years later, the click-clack of the newsroom is a distant memory. Which sometimes strikes me as shocking, because I truly believed that I would only and always work in the news business. After all, I had a degree in journalism, had interned at papers every summer in college, and had landed a great job in the business.

But actual life happened, bringing me to a place where pigs outnumber people by a significant margin. No, I never once figured on being a farm wife. In fact, I said I never, ever, EVER would move back to my husband’s family farm.

But there I stood last week, standing at the kitchen window holding a telephone and talking to my former editor, while my feet were planted firmly in my very own “I Will Never.” Years ago, God turned this Neverland into a Promised Land. My husband and I willingly came to the northwest corner of the state to grow crops, pigs, and a family. And meanwhile, God was growing us.

“You seem happy, genuinely happy,” my old colleague said.

I told him I was. I was really happy. Still am. And we noted that he was living in his own “I'll Never,” too. My editor had become a pastor.

We said our goodbyes, and I hung up the phone. I looked out the window, over these snow-spotted fields, toward my neighbors' houses. Many of them are living their own “I'll Nevers,” too. A woman who lives a half-mile south of us went to school in Nashville for interior design, but she is back home, happily working with her father’s online advertising business. Another neighbor, a former nurse, now designs apparel. My husband, a 1996 law school graduate, stays in touch with five of his closest law school friends. Only one of the five still practices law.

A friend of mine, Lyla, recently wrote an essay, describing life this way:

“For many of us, life is much less like following a road map than coursing through a Rube Goldberg contraption. It seems far more like an elaborate series of springs and pulleys, levers and ropes that sets a chain reaction into motion.” Despite our high hopes and careful planning, she wrote, “we will live best taking care with what comes.”

I still like to make plans, but I’ve learned to hold them a little more loosely, and then to take care with what comes next, as Lyla advised. I still believe that God’s plan led me to a newsroom long ago, the place where I typed when most of the world sang “Auld Lang Syne.” I believe that God’s plan led me into a career where, for a time, I honored Him by sharing the day’s news in an objective manner for our readers.

But the Good Lord had a few surprises along the way. And I can honestly say, I’m grateful for both: for the days I am living, and for the auld lang syne—the days gone by.

YOUR TURN: Tell us about about your own "I'll Never." ... And how has your life felt like a Rube Goldberg contraption?  

Post by Jennifer Dukes Lee. Image by Newspaper Club. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

Reader Comment