One fall day, Walter, a member of my congregation, gave me a big, glorious neck pumpkin. If you’ve not seen one, neck pumpkins look less like a round, orange Halloween pumpkin and more like a butternut squash on steroids.
I cut open the neck pumpkin from Walter, scooped out the seeds, baked and froze it. In the following months, my husband and I enjoyed all manner of pumpkin dishes.
When Lent came around the following spring, I still had some neck pumpkin in the freezer. Our congregation had a Lenten tradition of Wednesday night soup suppers followed by Evening Prayer. One week I decided to make cream of pumpkin soup. Walter was a regular at those soup suppers, so I made sure to tell him the soup was made from one of his own neck pumpkins.
Today I had cream of pumpkin soup
After dinner, Walter came over to my table. “I am 90 years old,” he said. “Before tonight, I had never had cream of pumpkin soup. Tonight, when I write in my diary, I will say, ‘Today I had cream of pumpkin soup, and it was very good.’”There was Walter at 90, trying something new. Click To Tweet
There was Walter at 90, trying something new, something probably far removed from the pumpkin breads and pies he knew. He tried the new soup, liked it, told the cook he liked it, and when the day was done, recorded his enjoyment of the new experience.
Every time I make cream of pumpkin soup, I am a little wistful—not just for one of Walter’s neck pumpkins, but also for the receptive spirit that allowed Walter to try something new and to celebrate it.
Not everyone is as open to change as Walter was. Back in 2008 two men were running for mayor in a small Romanian village. The incumbent, one of the two candidates, died suddenly. It was too late to call off the election, so it proceeded. Despite his death, the incumbent was re-elected. “I know he died,” one villager told reporters, “but I don’t want change.”In a world that is constantly changing, sticking with the familiar is safe and easy. Click To Tweet
Many of us are like that villager. We can stare down reality, knowing full well that something dear to us is no longer the same, and despite it all, we respond, I don’t want change!
Change is good
I believe change is good. I know what is familiar is comforting for some. In a world that is constantly changing, sticking with the familiar is safe and easy. It’s also easy to avoid change because it takes effort to react to what’s new. Some fear change. What if I don’t like the change? What if I can’t manage in the new situation?
The good news is we don’t face change alone. God is with us. God sustains and strengthens us. God is doing new things every day. Remember God’s words in Isaiah? “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19)
Our God is in the business of change. You can embrace change, like Walter with the cream of pumpkin soup. Or you can try to avoid change, like the Romanian villager. What will it be? New life or death?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.