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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Where Jesus Enters My World

Green bell peppers. Fire roasted tomatoes burnt red. Ground beef all mesquite sputters against wooden spatula. Spaghetti splatter spots apron bib. And I’m crying onion.

Sleeve swipes at tears and eye make-up smears. I lean toward the candle burning on cutting board. Chop. I hold a chunk of bread between my teeth and try not to drool. Chop. I squint glare at the vegetable and I’ve tried every wives-tale trick to keep from crying onion but they don’t work.

It’s all flavor color blur in skillet. Onion tears run all green into red and mesquite at spatula and stinging eyes. I grope for jar of spaghetti sauce.

My kitchen smells like mesquite and cutting board onion strong. Oh and how!

Empty plates, full compliments and dishes stack at sink. And that ox of an onion! Powerful. I scrub board hard and sudsy. Give up, and find stable. Dishwasher. Close door. Press “start.”
And l lean back against warm dishwasher gathering steam energy to be driving instructor.


Driving permit and peppermint milkshakes with chocolate shavings that are worth waiting a year for. We’ve waited since last December. Daughter stands expectant with permit in hand and by now I ought to be a seasoned instructor. This is my fourth time. My fourth driver. I have a hundred and twenty hours under my belt. In the passenger seat.

I hand her the keys. Ask her if she sees well at night because I don’t. Blind as an onion. I put driving glasses on and wish I had lens for jumpy nerve blur. I stable it behind seatbelt click.

"Curb.” I keep voice low and professional.

“Gooood,” I purr steady.

“Now, when you are able, change lanes.” She’s more able than I am.

We pull up to drive-through. We are a long arms reach from the window. Server and daughter half-body lean across window to window distance and exchange peppermint milkshakes and payment.

The lid comes off mine and peppermint shake overflows sticky down Styrofoam cup and fingers. Sticky drips onto console and soaks drive-time record sheet. It’s all sticky mess that can’t be helped because we’re leaving the lot and entering lane.

“Now, change over three lanes. All the way over to the left turn lane. See it? Now.” I fumble for paper towel in door pocket. Eyes on road.

Now. Now. Now! Curb!!” And I wish I could stick my nerves in that cup holder. Peppermint stable. Stick.

“Let’s just breath. Now!…I mean, now-w…bre-e-athe…,” I sound like my yoga instructor.

We leave the tension in the turn lane. And I can’t help it. Laughter starts in belly. Rises to shoulder. Valiant effort to keep it stabled behind twitching lips. But it is ox, too. Laughter. And it kicks harder that I can hold.

Permit girl keeps one eye on road and other quizzical on me.

“It’s a good thing…,” Laughter kicks out,  “…I’m not an instructor…,” Laughter breaks stable. “…at your driving schooool…!” Ox is out and tears stream laughter.

Permit girl laughs polite.

“I don’t know who’d be more frazzled….” I’m doubled over seat belt and sticky. “Me or the students….” Sticky fingers wipe laughter tears peppermint.

And permit girl laughs real.
"They’d request me, though….” Our laughter in unbelted. “Just for the entertainment!”

Unseated laughter gets us home.

Permit girl clicks headlights off. Pulls peppermint shake cautious from cup holder. Opens door.
“Um-m…you may want to turn the car off,” I say all instructor voice.

“Oh-h…Yeah…” She gets out.

Alone in passenger seat I yank Lysol sheets from canister. I keep one in my car because…well…. I clean the sticky away and the cup holders and consol haven’t been this clean in months.

“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean.” I think to myself. It’s a Proverb. Chapter fourteen and verse four.

It’s true. And the oxen in my stable today smelled like onion, peppermint, anxiety, and laughter.

My stable is not empty. And it’s not clean. Not without disorder and surprise. But today laughter cleaned anxiety. Lysol wipes cleaned peppermint stick. Dishwasher cleaned onion board. And at two-o’clock in the morning big German arms cleaned panic attack away and stabled me til I slept.

Today was mess. It was laughter run all onion and it was spaghetti spatter on apron bib and eye make-up smear and peppermint sticky. And it was the disordered beat of panic mess. It was ox and stable.

And it seems to me that God is partial to oxen and stable mess. Wasn’t this where He chose for Jesus to enter this world? Isn’t this still where Jesus enters my world?

It is.

written by: Carolyn Roehrig

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