by: Rev. Ed Schneider
As I remember how my “Grandma Fern” use to employ her ample humor with me as well as the gentleness she displayed while trying to teach what she viewed as essential elements to life, I can’t help but smile. A good example of her technique of sharing wisdom in the most practical way I want to share a story about she and I standing in her kitchen trying to teaching me how to make scrambled eggs….or at least I thought it was supposed to be about making scrambled eggs. As you will discover our “cooking lesson” eventually turned into one of the most important life lessons I was ever offered.
As the scene unfolds I find myself leaning on the sink watch my grandmother pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator as she prepared for “the lesson.” She brought several eggs over to the glass bowl that was sitting by the stove. She handed me an egg and started by telling describing the proper technique of breaking the outer shell. I managed to get most of the egg actually in the bowl. However, some of the egg landed on the outside of the intended target. And that’s when it started.
She told many people when eggs get broken they get upset. They often times find a wet rag and wipe up the mess. My Grandmother, on the hand, suggested taking a broken egg and making something good and useful out of it. “Don’t just assume failure,” she said. My grandmother told me that not every situation in your life is going to be perfect or easy to handle. She was more than a little enthusiastic concerning when “unexpected trouble” happens I was to “keep your head about you and look for other possibilities.” She broke another egg or two and started to add milk, and cheese, and salt and pepper to the bowl of broken eggs.
Just like “real life,” she said, it is essential to find away of using other things around you to turn a negative into an opportunity for success. As she flipped over the eggs and then began stirring the hardening liquid slowly she told me you are going to have to commit to working at something that appears to be broken. After she placed the finished “life example” on our plates, we sat down at the table to eat our freshly made scrambled eggs. As we were eating she shared with me adage after adage concerning “never giving up” and “keeping your head about you while things look broken”. In retrospect my grandmother was truly a remarkable woman with great insight and wisdom.
As often as I can I share this and other tales about my “Grandma Fern” with any preacher willing to listen. I have use this story so often and in so many different contexts, that my grandmother has begun to take on an iconic identity. In fact, the other day I was presented with a young preacher wanting to get some advice about effective preaching. I shared with her only stories of my grandmother. As I was retelling story after story about my grandmother I was completely expecting the young preacher to eventually lose interest in her sage advice within the loving and anecdotal yarns I had been sharing, but she didn’t. In fact, she was particularly engaged about her teaching me how to make scrambled eggs. To my pleasant surprise her response was thankfulness. She told me that the story about scrambled eggs and its “never giving up on a few broken eggs throughout your life,” was truly inspiring.
To my surprise she told me that her grandmother basically taught her the same lesson, except her grandmother’s choice of metaphoric symbolism was a poker game. This young preacher went on to recount her grandmother’s “poker wisdom” by sharing that even though God “deals” you a “fresh hand” everyday, you are still charged with making decisions about what do “with the hand that has been dealt.” Other analogies of grand-motherly wisdom such as; “being willing to change a bad hand by going back to the source of the cards” was one of my favorites, and the absolute best example of “poker wisdom” was… “even if your hand is completely void of promise, you can turn away from it by throwing it away and receiving a new beginning with a fresh hand.”
I am reasonably sure that the lesson here is NOT related to scrambled eggs or poker. I am equally assured that the lesson is NOT grandmothers are funny and wise. I believe the greater lesson here is that God’s message of grace and forgiveness is everywhere at all times, and in everything.
God’s expression of love and wisdom is NOT limited to a well quoted biblical scripture or the intellectually astute. God’s reality is everywhere and in everything. God’s loving evidence lives and breathes inside the lives of those who have been touched by its power. God’s gracious reality is not just experienced in the majesty of a sunrise gently ascending over the horizon. It is experienced foremost in the everyday assurances of those subtle, yet divine, happenings of everyday life.
The miracle of waking up after each night’s slumber, the caress of a loved one’s hand, the laughter of a small child, or even the joy of some artistic expression, are all daily examples of God manifesting His reality inside the lives of His creation. God just doesn’t live in the largeness of life’s circumstances but also in the smallness of life individual moments. God’s character and expression can be found everywhere, if we learn to search for it. God’s character and Divine expression can even be found in the preparation of scrambled eggs or playing a hand of poker with our grandmothers.
Maybe all of us need to look a little closer where God can be experienced each and everyday. Peace.