Starting Point
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Issue Date:  April 15, 2005

Starting Point


For weeks, I had been preparing for a special family celebration dinner. Just before it was time for everyone to arrive, fragrant cooking aromas permeated the house. Then I heard a loud bang and crash. Dashing into the kitchen, I was met by a terrible burning smell and wafting smoke. With a feeling of dread, I gingerly opened the oven door and saw that the glass casserole dish that I’d used many times before had exploded in the oven -- ruining my magnificent roasting turkey. I was using a new, unfamiliar oven and had apparently set the pan too close to the bottom heating element.

I was dumbfounded. Then I sprang into action turning off the sputtering oven, which was filled with hundreds of glass shards dripping in gravy. My husband raced out of the shower wearing only a towel. After some tense moments of wondering what to do, he began picking up the pieces as I nervously chanted, “Be careful.” Finally, we had the mess cleaned up, although my husband got a deep cut on one finger.

Stressed and exhausted with only an hour to spare, I revamped my menu and decided to serve sliced ham, green pepper and pineapple quickly heated in a frying pan. The dinner went ahead.

Although the unexpected ruined dinner made me irritated and upset, I also experienced a deeper, calming feeling that slowly emerged. It was as if God were saying to me, “OK, you’ve been through far worse than this. You can handle this.” As I simmered down and my heart quit racing, I realized that this was, indeed, just one of life’s little traumas -- an inconvenience but nothing that should ruin the happy gathering and shared meal we had planned.

Chef Fr. Jim Vlaun teaches in his lovely cookbook, Feasts of Life, “No matter how we do it, celebrating, feasting and God are very close. They are so close in fact, that they are interconnected.”

This proved true as later, following a delicious meal and good time with family, my husband and I laughed about the exploding casserole. “All’s well that ends well,” I said.

Joni Woelfel is the author of The Edge of Greatness, Resurrection Press.

National Catholic Reporter, April 15, 2005

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