Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Good Life: Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry

Since losing my dad a couple of months ago, I have thought often of the lessons I learned from him over the years and most particularly those last days in the nursing care facility. We all knew he was dying and we had the gift of time to express our gratitude for the life we'd shared. Several times over those last weeks he'd say, "I've had a good life," without smile or frown, close his eyes and lay his head back in rest.

Struggle was a theme of my dad's life. He struggled with being an orphan, he struggled with depression at times, and he struggled because he was a visionary, called to do different things in different ways. It wasn't always easy or understood but he kept creating new paths in and to the Kingdom. To hear him say at the end that he'd had a good life was a wonderful thing because for most of my life, I was aware of him being a bit restless in his wrestling with his life's call. There was joy, humor, and love always but often this sense of restlessness as well. To see the knowing expression and to hear the words "I've had a good life" brought me comfort.

I've wondered what it is that makes a "good life" and I sense that it is different for everyone. In mourning the loss of my father and concurrently celebrating his life, I have attempted to illuminate those things that made his a "good life". I have felt that his life fully lived and his death so closely observed shouldn't go by without reflection and even transformation. In my own definition of a "good life" we are given experiences to learn about truth and beauty and having a front row seat to so much of his life and to his passing gives me much to ponder.

Two things I came upon, written in his own hand, lead me close to understanding his thoughts on a good life:

On a small card, sitting on his desk, these words:
"Each one of us has an irrevocable vocation to be in Christ, and the Christ that I am supposed to be is irreplaceable. It has to be my vision of Christ and, if I do not fulfill that, there is going to be something missing forever and forever in the Kingdom of Heaven, and each of us know this and feels this. " Thomas Merton

And tucked in the back of a book, this quote from Peter Kreeft,
"Saints reproduce themselves simply be being who they are."

A good life? Learning who we are to be, in Christ, and courageously being that each day until we are no longer on this earth.

....And now something good to sustain you on the journey:

Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 pound chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 green onions cut into small pieces
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces

In a glass dish, stir together soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, and cornstarch. Add chicken pieces and coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic and fry until softened. Reserving the marinade, add chicken followed by the onions, asparagus and carrots. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink.

Add marinade and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Serve over brown rice.

Lifting my glass to the good life,


  1. Thinking of you, and so glad to see a blogpost! I only knew your Dad in passing, but I am grateful to know him a little through your memories.

  2. This is a wonderful post about your dad. I certainly knew in him all the struggles you speak of but his "good life" lives on in me in oh-so-many ways. --Joan