Casseroles as a clue to the meaning of life.

A friend of mine lost her mother this week, and I have tried to be helpful in small ways: going to the service, providing a couple of meals, offering to come and help clean (and making her promise she would call me if she needed it later on) . . . six months ago, I wouldn’t have been so attentive to detail, but experience is, after all, the best teacher. Which means I knew to put the casseroles in disposable pans so that she wouldn’t have to return them.

Doing that kind of cooking is, actually, kind of stressful for me. I have had some bad experiences with post-baby meals . . . I always feel as if there’s some sort of Martha Stewart Standard I can’t achieve. There are a few dishes I do pretty well, but I’m not an organized cook, and the kitchen is still in a state of disarray from my adventures earlier today (I’m going to clean it up when the game is over). I admire people who are so much more competent about these things than I am. I forgot to cook the chicken yesterday, so when I was putting it in the casserole today, it was too hot and burned my fingers. I baked cookies from some frozen dough, but had trouble spooning them out because I didn’t give them enough time to thaw. I spilled chicken broth on the floor and counters. There are dirty dishes in the sink.

Instead of getting stressed, I tried to think of it as part of my sacrifice for my friend, an act of prayer. She probably won’t ever know that it was a little bit difficult for me to bring her those things or to attend the memorial, just like I won’t ever know exactly what people went through to be supportive of me last year.

Last weekend, I went away with some other women from church, and it was another piece in what I’ve been learning about community. I can be somewhat hesitant to put myself in situations like that, going away for the weekend with people I don’t know all that well, but even in the past week, I have seen how those relationships have grown, simply because of being able to spend time together in a new place (over mass quantities of food). I still have a lot to learn about being comfortable and being willing to show who I am, but I am starting to be able to approach relationships from a place of security.

So I was able to offer myself to my friend in a small way: my burned fingers, my slightly deformed cookies. The dishes that are still in my sink. She doesn’t have to know about that. I just want her to know that I was thinking about her.

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