By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published October 19, 2021
One day at church, I was talking with a friend, who was recovering from surgery for cancer. He told me his wife would soon be having surgery on her shoulder. When I got home, I emailed her. “Do you need meals?”
She responded excitedly that they would love that. I was excited too, because this was a chance to help people, until I realized the one obvious problem. I’m a terrible cook.
You see, for 33 years my husband was captain of the kitchen, turning out appetizers, salads and entrees, while I helped with desserts. After his death six years ago, I had to face the reality of how meager my cooking skills are. I’d like to tell you I took classes, and am now slicing and dicing my way to gourmet heaven, but that’d be a lie.
Still, I recalled how much it had meant to me when folks from St. Thomas More had delivered meals after Jef died. This is what community is all about, I reminded myself, coming to each other’s aid in times of trouble.
Scrolling through online recipes, I realized that even someone with primitive cooking skills could turn out a decent meatloaf. But I wanted my friends to have meals for five days, which, let’s face it, would be like climbing Mount Everest with a 50-pound weight strapped to my back.
And then I had an inspiration. Why not see if others would come to my rescue? Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve. Nowhere did he say we should serve others all by ourselves.
I contacted a group at church called Serviam (“I serve”), which helps parishioners needing food, transportation or encouragement. I also emailed folks in Martha’s Ministry, which provides mercy meals after funerals. Both groups were delighted to help out!
Sometimes it’s a hard lesson to admit we can’t do everything alone. As a widow, it’s been a huge challenge asking folks to help me. The list seems endless, since my husband had overseen house and car repairs, computer issues, yard work—and don’t forget cooking!
People assure me they’re eager to help, but each time I ask for a favor, I have to humble myself and admit how many things I simply can’t do. Humility can be painful, but it also provides a mirror for how prideful we are. For me, it’s a constant struggle to tame an ego that surprises me with its strength.
When I find myself meticulously analyzing homilies for potential problems, cringing because something isn’t done exactly to my taste, checking myself in the mirror one too many times, I know my ego is getting a workout.
The ego’s song is simple enough: Me, me, me! How can I be the most comfortable, enjoy the finest things in life and be admired? Humility doesn’t mean wearing ragged clothes and subsisting on bread and water. It doesn’t mean thinking God loves everyone else, except me—or that it’s fine to be miserable.
Humility means realizing everything we have comes from God. Our talents, our friends, our faith, our family. Humility also means realizing God gives each of us certain gifts. The guy who can build bookcases might be loath to keep bees. The teacher who is great with toddlers may cringe when it comes to teens.
It’s almost time for the meal deliveries to start—and how lovely to know others are pitching in. Truth be told, when it comes to cooking, I’ll never make it up Mount Everest, but with the help of others, I might manage a few hills.
Artwork is by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef (jefmurray.com). Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.