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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 blurry 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 my cutting board like 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 stable it in the dishwasher. Close door. Press “start.” And I wish it was that easy. Just close the door on everything smelly and offensive and on whatever makes me cry because it’s too strong for me.
The warmth of the dishwasher behind me soothes rough thoughts that this onion seems to have pulled out. Well, that’s another wives tale. Or perhaps true remedy. Put onion on an infection and it will pull the infection out. I tried that too, a few times, when the boys were young and had ear infections. Stuck an onion in their ear.
And, my thoughts wander from here down a road to Bethlehem. To a stable, no doubt smelly, where infant Savior cried because He was new born, yes; but did He cry also because of what infects the world? Because He is the Savor for us sinners and His blood, offensive to many, would draw out of Him and pull the infection out of us? I lean here against dishwasher and pray, “Wash me, Jesus, in Your blood ‘til the infection is gone. Wash my sin away.”
This is the road my thoughts travel, as steam escapes dishwasher door and warms my back. It’s the prayer I pray as my soul warms and while I wait. Because I have daughter with driving permit and destination. And I need energy at day’s end to be driving instructor and to direct her down the right roads to get there. Jack in the Box down Main Street. They have the best Christmas season milkshakes.
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.
“Umm. You may want to turn the car off,” I say all instructor voice.
“Oh, 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, healing, forgiveness, 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 Jesus cleanses sin ‘til the infection is gone and there are no more tears. 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?