bourbon caramel chai and the hideous beauty of holy discontent
It began with whiskey and water, along with a bag of spicy decaf chai. This holy discontent: when the plans I’ve tried to piece together become simultaneously more clear, more frightening, and less tangible. The boozey tea was an acceptable replacement for a hot toddy, though I’ve never been satisfied with acceptable.
See I was born the second child/ with a spirit running wild, running free.
I was born a restless child/ and I could hear that world outside calling me.
It needed a touch of sweetness to counter the abrasive burn of the bourbon. I suggested we make a caramel, the flavor of burned sugar a natural complement. I am a planner. Whether a rough outline of the potential routes my life could take over the next 10 years; a detailed spreadsheet of finances, schooling, job options and apartment prices, with cells that can be easily changed to know the affect a particular purchase, vacation, or relationship could have on the proposed trajectory of life; or just a sense that change is coming and I am unable to maintain my beloved control, I plan for the days ahead.
There was no cream to halt the process of cooking sugar, so we tossed in a dab of butter instead. I was nervous that the higher fat content of the butter would not fully emulsify at the addition of alcohol, yet we had to work with what was before us and butter it was, not cream.
Lately my plans have seemed to assemble into a clear and exciting journey, a culmination of the things that I love, the convictions that I hold, and the foretastes of the future God has given me in past years. Yet I forget, I am not working towards a culmination – I am not training for a point when I will just be, utilizing the skills acquired in my training. I am constantly learning and changing, training and utilizing, and when I think that there will be a plateau, then I become overwhelmed with a need to be there right now. But there is no time for coasting – the plan, however beautiful, however complex, however perfect a collection of my dreams and desires, must always be open to evolution. And that openness to evolution incites in me a beautiful restlessness that wants to know what to expect all the while basking in the mystery of what my life could become.
Once the caramel was complete, we added our hot water, whiskey, and tea. We’d not forgotten our original intentions, only detoured to make them so much more. A bit of lemon juice and a touch of salt, the buttery front prepared the palette for a kick of bourbon mellowed by caramel undertones, finished with a slight tingling on the sides of the tongue as the lemon juice drew the flavors to a close.
As I sipped on this warm, buttery cocktail creation with a dear friend in that busy city I hardly know but already feel is home, I felt that small nudge in my heart that incites this holy discontent. I was reminded that God has not yet given me a complete map, only outlines that might by carried out in a direction far different than I expect. I hold my plans loosely before Him, and He is picking them up and changing their orientation. A restlessness that reminds me that my plans are not my own, but they are exciting, and beautiful, and good.
So here I am, wholly content with this holy discontent, peacefully restless and ready to go.
“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which can not be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~Ranier Maria Rilke