Come noon, and I am feeling it, like someone turned the heat to searing high.
The Farmer walks in the back door looking for a heaping plate of steaming hot food, the littlest has dissolved into a puddle of tears, one child needs to know what 9 books would cost if 3 books cost $76 and two boys scuffle over a disputed eraser.
Anyone know the escape route to the big flashing exit sign?
But I have to feed them all first.
I toss the potatoes into the pressure cooker, grandma’s pressure cooker from the 50’s, the one with the decades old, hand-smoothed wooden handles. I lock on the lid. Drop on the weight.
Levi, waiting for me to announce his next spelling word, looks up from his stool perch at the island. “What does a pressure cooker do, anyways?”
Gathering up a crying little Shalom, I mumble out an explanation. The weight’s abobbing, whistling, dipping and dancing over deep heat.
“Oh, a pressure cooker’s just a pot with a lid that doesn’t let the steam escape. And if the steam doesn’t escape, whatever’s in the pot cooks faster.”
And if the steam doesn’t escape….
“Is that why you’re always cooking with pressure cookers? The three of them? To cook everything faster?” Levi dangles off his stool, waving his pencil about.
I look around at counters with books and papers, sideboards of teetering stacks of laundry.
Over the whistle of the pressure cooker, Caleb’s asking me something about how to figure out the plural accustive case of the first declension in his Latin exercise.
Escapism always tempts: read a few pages of the book in the washroom, check email, see if there’s anything sweet on the pantry shelves, anything. Quick, let off some steam.
Sometimes it is direly necessary. Good and right. All pressure cookers have safety valves.
And yet too, the paradox, always the paradox:
When life heats up, escape can negate the efficacy of the Refiner’s Fire.
Letting pressure’s steam escape, may mean God’s dream for me escapes. Habitual escapism can escape His holy ends.
“Yes, Levi… ” I stroke Shalom’s hair back from her wet cheeks. “Lots of pressure cookers. Less cooking time. Let the pressure do its work.”
Lock the lid on. Let life get hot.
Stay present. Breathe deep.
Let the pressure do its good, quick work.
The thing-a-mo-bobber on the pot’s glinting lid, it spins, singing high, a silver song, a song refined.
I stay here, present in the pressure, and turn to the sink, this, my slow dance in heat.
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace… . Isaiah 48:10