Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Leftovers and Rough Drafts

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I must admit I have become a bit of a wizard with leftovers. Three weeks ago, the leftover tri-tip from the class BBQ became the basis for the next day's steak chili. The leftovers of the steak chili went into the freezer to save for later. Last night's leftover baked beans and a little bit more tri-tip were added to the previously frozen chili and some tomatoes and spices, then layered into a baking dish with cornbread batter poured over the top to make today's chili-cornbread casserole. There was way more chili than I needed, so I made it into two casseroles, baked them both and put one in the freezer for another time. I won't even go into what went into last week's lentil soup--the leftovers of which are also happily tucked away in the freezer.

This process, repeated again and again with lots of different leftover food items, freshly combined to create new dishes, is very satisfying to me. I love creating something new from what was once seen as old and unwanted. It is almost a spiritual exercise for me, reminding me of God's love of taking the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong. It is the stone that the builders rejected becoming the chief cornerstone, the child set on a knee as an example in the midst of the elders.

So, as I was wrapping up leftovers to freeze today, I was also listening to the sounds of my children working on a school project in the other room. They had been given the task of creating a detailed diagram that shows the electromagnetic spectrum, from gigantic radio waves all the way to the tiny gamma rays. They sketched out a diagram and brought it to me to approve.

I informed them that it was an excellent first draft and pointed out several ways to improve it for a final copy. They got back to work.

An hour later, they showed me their "final draft."


I asked about the several places where letters had been poorly formed and scribbled over. I asked about the sloppy boxes hastily drawn around some of the terms. I asked about the description of the diagram, in messy handwriting, crammed into the corner of the page.

I was met with defensiveness. I had to do that because I was out of room! I knew that letter didn't look right, but it was written in colored pencil so I couldn't erase it!

I reminded them that I always recommend that they sketch everything out very lightly in pencil first, make sure everything is where it needs to be and is drawn correctly, and THEN begin to darken in lines and add color. I reminded them that this poster is to hang on the wall and questioned if they thought it was something to be proud of, something that shows their very best efforts.

Sullen faces. A few tears of frustration. And finally, the big question: Are you going to make us do it all over again?


That is the beauty of a draft. A draft allows you to make your mistakes, learn from them. A draft encourages you to be more careful and plan for greater success. A draft, in short, is a mercy. When you are nine or twelve years old, it is a severe mercy. When you are four times that old, it is still a severe mercy, I suppose, but a mercy nonetheless.

How grateful I am to realize that today, this week, this month, this year, this decade have all been drafts. I get to wake up each morning and start over with yesterday's leftovers, having learned from my mistakes and ready to create something better. How grateful I am that my final project is not due until this entire class has been completed. May each draft be continually better than the one before.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (from the third chapter of Philippians, in the Bible)


Scott Lyons said...

Good post, Sherry. Drafts are frustrating because they are not the final product, but, as you point out, there is terrible beauty in them as well. A draft is a gift that allows us to begin, without the fear of being imperfect. (If we can accept it to be so.) : )

Eagle-eye Di said...

Our final draft isn't done until the Lord takes us home one day.We should all be continually working on our final draft so that we can stand before the Lord and hear him so Well Done welcome home.

alison said...

Great post, Sherry. Beautifully written and so true.

CML_Shearings said...

What great examples of applying Paul's text to real life! Some of your left-over ideas may be seen at Beth Tephila's Oneg, Sherry.

strider1971 said...

drafts are good. left overs are always good and it is amazing how one can create interesting dishes. btw does anyone know how to cancil ad cents? i have the information but don't have the info of first date, and number of impressions and don't know where to look? have searched help on blogger to no avail. help!!!!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Stopping from Time Travel Tuesday!

I need constant revisions and rereads.