One of my favorite early childhood memories (preschool to early grade school age) is spending the afternoon playing and then having dinner together with some of my cousins. We had so much fun together. It wasn’t all perfect though. We had our moments of disagreements (maybe even downright feuding), but overall we enjoyed being with each other.
As I think back to the times we spent together, I recall those Fridays where the meal served was pasta and peas (elbow macaroni with sauce and peas). Although I can chuckle about it now, when I was a child it was no laughing matter. You see, I’m not sure that any of us even slightly liked peas. What child does? However, we needed to eat our veggies; there was not much choice in the matter.
Here’s the kicker though, some of us were lucky enough to get pasta without peas. There would always be a small bowl of pasta without peas, and of course, that would run out faster than you could say, “pasta and peas.” It was first served to those who portrayed their hatred of peas the best. Unfortunately, I was not the squeaky wheel and never quick enough to beat out my older siblings and cousins with what was left over, after those who were most intolerant of peas were served. Thus, it was pasta and peas for me just about every time (and pushing the peas to the side of the plate was not an option).
As a child I remember being disappointed at having to eat peas and, sometimes, even resentful of those who escaped having to eat them. As I think back to those days though, in addition to seeing humor in the situation now, I am also struck by the way I feel such love and joy in my heart as I think about my cousins and the time we spent together. There was, and is, a loving bond between us that no length of time or distance between us could ever erase.
When I think about this, I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Just as these dear memories of time spent with my cousins and siblings remain in me and with me always, so does Jesus. Just as they and the feelings of love and joy associated with them are available to me always, so is Jesus and the peace, love, joy, strength, hope, courage and all that Jesus embodies. All available to me, to all of us, and ready for the taking, regardless of whether or not pasta and peas is on the menu, and regardless of whether or not it is smooth sailing or stormy waters. There is always something greater. Hold onto it, and we will not be disappointed.