It takes wisdom, courage for a new century

It all started late one night with a loud churning noise in the kitchen.
I raced quickly to see if the garbage disposal had run amuck. What I found was a frightening Star Wars-type event taking place in the oven.
In retrospect, it probably was just a fire burning up the heating element. From the beginning, it was obvious major repairs would be required to restore the 30-year-old brown Tappan range in time to cook the Christmas turkey.
But somehow I hadn’t anticipated its total demise. And for that reason, I wasn’t quite prepared when the delivery service wheeled in the new stove and wheeled out the old.
I watched quietly as they slowly steered the dolly out of the kitchen door, through the garage, and then slid the aging stove onto the lift that would gently raise the faithful appliance and push it on the truck to be delivered to a place where old stoves are flattened and forgotten forever.
It felt like a coffin being raised, instead of lowered. And in that one poignant moment, I seemed to lose the 30 wonderful years the old range and I had shared.
I heated milk on that stove for Neva when she was a puppy. And again as she lay dying of leptospirosis.
I baked cookies for Scott and Conrad while they built cities in the sand. And made hot chocolate when two high school young men built model railroads in the basement.
I baked my mother’s favorite muffins in the old stove’s oven. And heated tea water for Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Naomi when they came to her funeral.
I made birthday cakes and valentine cookies. Christmas fudge and custard for summer homemade ice cream.
I boiled over the beans and let the pasta run dry. I blew up a baked potato in the oven and filled my piecrusts too full. And the large burner rarely worked any more.
That old stove was a microcosm of life. Play and work. Youth and age. Birth and death. Celebration and grief. Successes and failures.
In a few minutes, I would return to the kitchen to a brand new state-of-the-art stove with computerized oven, a timer that works, a flat top that cleans easily, and a self-cleaning oven. A white stove. One that brightens up the kitchen like snow reflecting the moon on a winter night.
It would require courage to go on to decades of new play and new work. To take new risks and share food with new people. To take part in new celebrations and share new grief with friends.
And it would especially require wisdom to know what of the old should be let go and what should be maintained.
That’s the way it always is in life’s transitions. And that’s the way it surely will be later this week when the new year and the new century are wheeled in.
So what about you? What things will you take with you into the new century and what will you leave behind? What new goals will you want to set? What old friends will you want to maintain? What new adventures will you pursue?
With wisdom and courage, you can surely create a wonderful new year!

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