The aroma of roasting beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots wafted through the kitchen and den, co-mingling with the spicy-homey smell of apples, cinnamon, and pecans. While Mom and I browsed through old family pictures, the guys turned on the game and started in cheering for the Red Raiders and commenting on the inadequacies of the competition.
Around mid-afternoon it was time to take that pie out of the oven. The streusel topping was bubbling with buttery cinnamon goodness, and I could hardly wait for dinner and dessert! I set it on the counter to cool but then had to move it over to the stove top to make way for something else. Although I offered everyone a piece of pie while it was hot, we were all still full from the homemade tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches from lunch. We were having a great day!
|How apple crumb pie should look|
Mom quickly grabbed a cookie sheet and began scooping the hot pie filling and glass shards off the burner while David and I grabbed towels, broom, and dust pan to start cleaning up the mess. And, it was a mess! Part of the glass was stuck to the burner, and getting all the muck from beneath the range top was a challenge. Alas!! The pie was ruined! But, no one seemed upset.
|My apple crumb glass pie!|
I don't think it was my lack of cooking skill that prevented my loved ones for losing their tempers or being angry with me over the lost pie. In fact, they were looking forward to a gastronomic pleasure. However, my family has come to expect such mishaps from time to time, and they are amazingly forgiving. Once, while we were preparing a holiday meal, the oven caught on fire where something had dripped on the bottom and then ignited. The kitchen fire extinguisher came in quite handy, and I promptly put the fire out. We all gagged and coughed for awhile until the smoke cleared out, but we still enjoyed our holiday. More recently, a skillet of oil, meant for frying onion rings, ignited while I answered a call and started talking to a lawyer who was issuing a subpoena requesting I testify against one of my patients. I was rattled by the call already when the oil burst into flame in a sudden whoosh! I asked him to hold on while David, Kate, and I tried to put out the fire. On that occasion the fire extinguisher didn't work. (Remember? I had used it on the oven fire and had not yet replaced it.) Also, placing the lid on the skillet failed to suffocate the flames and simply drove them beneath the burner, and David's attempts at throwing kitchen towels on the fire didn't work either. By then I was saying, "We need to call 911!" Kate finally snuffed out the flames by throwing a big bathroom towel over everything! she saved the day! Meanwhile, the lawyer for the state board was still holding and listening to all the commotion going on in our kitchen. Strangely, even after that, he still sent me the subpoena. Would you trust the testimony of a Psychiatrist who catches things on fire in her kitchen? Frequently?
On this particular Saturday, my sweet husband patiently swept and whisked and emptied broken glass into the trash can until all was clean again. Mom scrubbed the burners and the pans that go beneath them, calm and capable. Kate, fortunately, escaped all the drama by being at play practice. Smiling to myself, appreciative of my family, I put together a batch of gingerbread, popped it in the oven, and had it out steaming and ready by the time we sat down to dinner.
What a circle of love I felt last night during that dinner! No one complained of not having apple pie. Everyone appreciated and praised the roast beef and all the trimmings. They didn't even get upset about the smoke! Instead I felt enveloped by the unconditional love and acceptance of my family and had a lovely evening I will long remember.
The absence of criticism and blaming got me to thinking--about my family, about love and forgiveness, and ultimately about God. My husband didn't care about the missing apple pie, I think, because I am the apple of his eye. He loves me and accepts my limitations and mistakes. He knows how much I love to cook, and he is not going to instruct me to stop cooking because I have a problem with my eyesight. Instead, he helps me whenever he can so that I can keep doing what I enjoy. He even helps clean up my messes without even one cross word. My mom has been through many a crisis in her life and has learned to manage them with poise and grace. She loves me also and has forgiven me for many failures over the years. I don't even have to ask her, because she already knows what I need. She shows compassion and understanding toward me as I keep stumbling along, trying to manage life under the grace and mercy God gives me. She is a great encourager, and I hope to be like her.
Each of these important people in my life is manifesting something within him or her placed there by God Himself. "You have never talked to a mere mortal", as C.S. Lewes says, because every person was created by God to be immortal--to live on after this life and to be Jesus with skin on in this one. God's Spirit lives within them, and it pours out to me and to others.
And then there's God. It is now Sunday, and I am reflecting on yesterday's events. Our pastor started teaching on Galatians this morning, and Galatians is all about grace--God's grace. I am awestruck with wonder that my family looks over my mistakes and forgives me for the multiple times I have nearly torched our kitchen. I am astounded by their patience and their willingness to keep loving me and putting up with me. Yet, they, as I, are human--imperfect people who have been "made complete" (Colossians 2:10) and are forgiven by a merciful God. God's capacity for understanding, for seeing the big picture, and for knowing me far exceeds the ability of my family to do so.
Matthew's gospel says, "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:9-11
If my mother and my husband give "good gifts" to me--gifts of forgiveness, mercy, acceptance, love, and helpfulness--how much more does my Father "give what is good" to me?! His love, mercy, faithfulness, grace, and love are far greater than what we can ever imagine. In fact, I am the apple of His eye! He loves me much more than even my husband does or can!