why is it so hard to be patient?
I‘ve got the squash peeled, gutted, chopped, and the water’s roiling in grandma’s pressure cooker, the one with the decades old, hand-smoothed wooden handles.
I only need the weight, that thing-a-mo-bobber that dances in the heat.
And it’s not on the shelf by the stove where I tuck her away, or in the cutlery drawer — or pot drawers — or utensil drawer. And I call Levi from Latin chants, Levi always with knitting needles in hand, even now, Levi the dish dryer and returner of all things enamel, stainless and shiny.
I ask all in angst, “Where is weight for the pressure cooker? The meat’s nearly done and Dad’s got to go by 1:30 down to the other farms — so lunch really has to be on the table when he gets in because he’ll have to go. Did you see it when you put the pots away last night?”
And he lays he needles and yarn down real slow on the counter and falls to the floor.
“I heard it fall last night….” He’s feeling along under cupboards. He’s all sprawled legs, the gangly arms groping. Steams rising from the pot, still waiting for the squash.
He looks up. “Could you move the fridge for me?”
“The fridge?” I’m not really staying patient at all. “No… maybe not the fridge right now.” I glance up at the clock. “You think it rolled under the fridge?”
“I don’t know. I just heard it drop when I was putting away the lid last night.”
“And you didn’t pick it up right then?” I try not to sound exasperated.
“I was thinking about stuff and forgot.” He’s got a yard stick and swiping underneath the fridge.
“Well, I guess I’ll just put the squash in, but without the weight pressurizing the steam. It will just take twice as long.” I deep breathe. This moment is grace — right? Maybe this pressure could do its work — just let Him do his deep, hot work in me.
Okay — just throw the pressure cooker’s trivet into the bottom of the pot and steam the squash in the now un-pressure cooker — but no. The trivet’s not on its shelf in the cupboard. Not in the sink. Not in with the pots.
I just. want. to. cook. — not hunt!
What if I laid my head down on the counter and cried? What if I bowed my head and prayer begged? Levi’s rifling through stack of enamel bowls in a cupboard, a stack of bread pans.
“Leev, any idea where you might have put the trivet?”
“The trivet?” He closes the cup drawer. “I did see that….”
My smile’s weak.
“I think I put it….” He’s back to the pot drawers. Deep breathe… Pray for grace. Are there leftovers in the fridge in case I don’t have the Farmer’s plate steaming ready when he comes hustling in here?
I let Levi retrace his trail and I move onto potatoes, count out ten of the Irish tubers from the spud bucket, our oldest son’s field of dreams harvest. I check under the sink for the potato brush. I need the potato brush. Only jugs of vinegar, soap. Exhale.
Is the potato brush in the mudroom sink? Just a ring of gritty sand back there. Really — all I really want to do is just cook dinner.
I’m almost ready to scream “Leeeevi?!”
But the heart beats out Words that it knows, the words known by heart, Words that a week memorized, just reviewing note tucked in a bowl of apples by the sink:
“And he who does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me…” ~Mt. 10:38
Take up a cross… Be willing to suffer… this — these are the marks of a follower of Christ.
Perhaps our greatest daily temptation is to be impatient — to refuse to suffer.
Perhaps my greatest daily sin is to refuse to suffer — to refuse to take up the cross of Christ.
Perhaps my greatest sin is refusing to wait on God’s ways — but to want my own will done — now.
Patience is a surrendering to suffering — a willingness to wait — a carrying of the Cross.
I whisper the heart-known words, what the heart now beats out because now the Words are in the veins and the genes: “And he who does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”
Today — there is always that possibility — to carry the cross, surrender to suffering, be willing to wait…
I’m hushed and gently turned around, the soul creases smoothed out, the heart dust brushed off.
This cross of domestic patience here is really but driftwood for the spiritual midgets, but I’m grateful that He knows my frame and what I am made of. And now too, to be made out of the memorized Words.
“Aha!” Levi’s grinning. “In with the dishcloths! I remember now!”
He’s holding the pressure cooker weight up in his hands, trophy.
“There you go, Mom.”
When his eyes do a jig like that, who can’t laugh? I grab his neck, pull that beautiful face in close, kiss that cowlick of his. I drop the squash into the pressure cooker, lock the lid, carefully place the thing-a-mo-bobber onto it’s crowning stage.
I wait — and soon she whistles…
Then, there it is — a dancing in heat —
This slow surrendering to steam.
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