March 16

When I Stopped

Today, in church, the pastor asked us to consider whether we had stopped along the way, and if so, when.

The question took me aback.  But the answer was easy.  I stopped when, in 2007, I began making cheese full time.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed making cheese.  People enjoyed eating it.  But it was a detour from my path, which had led me from bedside panels for alcoholics at County General Hospital in Los Angeles, to helping organizations in Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand provide basic needs for the extreme poor, to helping to try to end a war, to studying God and the Bible in college, to helping to build schools in the poorest neighborhoods of Tijuana, Mexico.

In 2007, all that stopped.  I became a full-time accountant in the winter, and a full-time cheesemaker in the summer.  Yes, we occasionally fed someone who needed it, and let someone stay with us who needed it.  But the focus of my life was no longer on serving others, but on serving cheese.

Perhaps it’s coincidental that 2007 is also when my previous marriage began its four-year collapse.  Perhaps it’s coincidental that was the same year I needed a pacemaker.  Perhaps it’s coincidental that my own mental health began to deteriorate.  And perhaps it’s coincidental that the cheese business sucked up all the money we had, and never quite became profitable.

I don’t think so.

I would like to thank my pastor for reminding me what’s important, and of how life was when I made it important.  God willing, I will make some changes in my life, and those things will become important again.