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A give-away a day

What’s left? After you’re gone, after you leave, after you go home…everything you gave away during the time you were there. If you stunk, the stench stays behind. But if you were gracious, it’s the fragrance that remains.

We gathered to remember our friend Callista who died much too young and shared stories and lore of days gone by. Memories are some of what remains. Feelings are some of what remains. But those things fade. Hate to admit that, but I know it’s true.

photo 3 (2)When I returned from the funeral I looked at the tea towel I had magnet-clipped to my refrigerator. On it is a recipe for citrus fruit tarts. Callista gave me this. But not just me. She had decorated dozens of tea towels with different recipes so we could choose a party favor to take home from the ladies tea she hosted last summer.

I chose this one. Made the recipe this winter and invited neighbors to enjoy the fruits of my labor on the day of the “big snow that wasn’t.” It’s really a summer recipe, but I had just gotten news of Callista’s significant illness. She hadn’t been able to host her usual New Year’s brunch this year, and now I knew why. So this was a tribute of sorts. A thanks, really. And it inspired me to invite friends over, just like she was so good at doing.

Now, I look at it on my refrigerator. Callista is gone. And what is left? Besides memories and feelings there is this. What she gave away.

I expect that heap, the one made of things given away, is what we stand on when we stand before the Lord on entering eternity. And somehow, in a way only God knows, that podium hovers on the unseen gifts. The blessings beyond what we’ve given. The reverberations of love we can’t see but He can.

Recipe for Life

Some things you just have to learn by doing.

That was yesterday’s final email in an exchange with my daughter, now in law school, who asked, “Okay. I ordered chicken breasts through Peapod, but how do I cook them????????????????” And yes, there is much angst contained in those ???s

This is a capable young woman, smart as a whip, aces tests, papers. She’s logical, athletic, coordinated, beautiful and she has no idea how to cook a chicken breast.

Some things you’re not born with and nobody sits you down to explain step by step on the chalkboard. (Although truth be told, we did make numerous efforts to teach her the basics, to which she responded, “Pfft. I know how to do that.”) Some things you just have to learn by doing.

I have found life is that way for me. Sure, there are cookbooks. Yes, as a Christian I have the Bible. And I believe the recipes for life are right there. But I must be about working out the details in order to get it right. A pinch more of this. A dash more of that.

Who am I kidding? I would like to think it was pinches and dashes. But no, more often there are:

  • things burned to a crisp that beg me to listen for the oven beep.
  • desperate efforts to extract the tablespoon that was supposed to be a teaspoon of that.
  • forgotten ingredients because I was in a rush.
  • substitutions made because I forgot to put THAT on the grocery list.

Nope. I am not a great cook. But I do make a mean zucchini bread. And I am learning that tossing ingredients in the crock pot just to see how they taste often works out just fine. Hey, if not, we chew and smile and make a note not to make THAT again.

And isn’t that the Christian life, really? Read the Book. Follow the directions. Taste and see. Evaluate your effort. Repeat.

Somehow in the doing, we get better and better. Funny how we obsess about what we bring to the table. Christ told us bread and wine was enough. Our families, however, demand chicken and rice. I can do that.

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