New people are moving in across the hall sometime next week. The cheerful management office receptionist said that while she couldn’t tell me anything about the newcomers, she did think they would appreciate a plate of cookies. *Hint, hint*
Do I even want to bake cookies for the mystery neighbors? And if I do, what kind of cookies to bake? What might the cookies mean to us both? Will it say ‘let’s be friends’? What if they don’t like cookies? What if they’re allergic to chocolate? to nuts (and I mean the organic kind, not the neighbors.)? What if culturally cookies are an insult? Ok – probably not that.
Even cookies can be probed for meaning and cookies can apparently provide a return to existential angst. If cookies can do this, what about really big questions!!
My youngest sister married into a family of devout Evangelical Christians nearly 27 years ago. In spite of all the suspicion, judgment, and negativity that emerged from that liaison (both from their side and from my Irish Catholic family’s side), my brother-in-law’s mother, K, remains one of my favorite people.
If you have had the pleasure of meeting one of those nurses who cause you to nod you head and say: “that person was born to be nurse”, you will understand my meaning when I say that K was called by the Holy to be one of those caregivers: K’s professional calling was being a medical nurse. K’s spiritual calling is being a soul nurse.
Some years ago, when I was deeply investigating Evangelical Christianity as a spiritual ground, I asked K to meet me for lunch. She appeared to emulate what I wished to be. I’m not sure I knew what it was I wanted to know, but I felt a conviction that she knew something that would be of help to me.
My experience of Born-Again Christians was primarily negative. Interestingly I met many of those people IN the Roman Catholic Church during my 7 year tenure as the Choir Director. It was after my life inside the staff hierarchy that I self-ejected from the Roman Catholic Church – only to return again. And again. (But that is another story.)
K, as an Evangelical Christian woman, is a rare bird to me. She is genuine. She is a gracious, generous, loving woman. What I remember about our lunch conversation is muffled and fuzzy. I’m sure we chatted family and events and eventually got around to the spiritual yearnings that were mine at the time: how to live life as a Christian woman, a follower of Jesus. Those words feel uncomfortable and artificial when I say them; but when she says “a follower of Jesus”, I feel the authenticity of her words. They resonate their meaning in a different way.
Of course after the “how” discussion, I pressed on to the “when” and the “knowing” questions.
“Oh, my dear”, she said so gently. “Be patient. Life is so daily.”
Life is so daily.
These are the words I remember. These are the words I cherish from the conversation. These are the words that comfort me when I’m anxious about progress. These are the words that prompt me to trust in the process of unfolding, to trust in the wisdom of letting go, to trust in the goodness of doing the task before me for its own sake, to trust in the words of Hildegard of Bingen: all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.
Cookies are pretty daily – at least they are daily on my menu. They are my favorite food, which is likely why I attach so much meaning to giving them.
Hospitality, in the form of a plate of cookies or in the form of lunch and conversation, is daily – and in that way ordinary. While the ordinary can mean something – or not – there is yet a third mysterious possibility. In the alchemy of trust, the ordinary transforms into the extraordinary through the daily-ness of life.