The Missing Ingredient

comments 32
Poetry

Miracles work like this:

we stop trying
to choose a life
from the menu
and invite the chef
to surprise us

our plate arrives
twenty minutes
later, empty
but for a
once-folded,
scribbled note:

where have
you been

get your ass
back here

the meringue
is on fire

Suddenly–
we remember…
We enter the kitchen
to hearty cheers,
exploding custards,
the incoming flight
of a ripe tomato,
a glimpse of flames
from the open pit rotisserie,
the juggling of knives,
the vigorous chorus
of a familiar song,
and the lunging,
judo-style greetings
of our comrades.

We are given
a new moniker:

The
Missing
Ingredient

It’s no good
insisting on being
a polite customer,
if deep inside
we are all
such wild and crazy
chefs.

32 Comments

    • Thanks, Brad. Just a cautionary note here: if you do opt for the chef’s special, I would advise against sending any food back to the kitchen. It doesn’t sit too well with some folks. They’ve got some rehabilitated angels working the grill some nights who still have a few peculiar ideas about customer service. 🙂

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Big smile. Thank you. Oh, indeed – we are all such wild and crazy chefs! This is the kind of cooking Don and I love to do. Lately we’ve been swimming again in the waters of infinite probable realities and deciding which one will become the next meal. And there’s the bit about being surprised. Or are we just playing hide and seek and surprising ourselves? Either way I’d never want to do away with that part of it. It’s so much fun 🙂
    Alison

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    • Sounds wonderful, Alison. I’m so glad we ended up working the same shift, and learn daily from the way you guys throw seven course meals together on a whim and say grace, too. 🙂

      Michael

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  2. Last week it was exploding pies and this week it’s exploding custard and a conflagration of meringues. There’s a kind of culinary terrorism going on here Michael; you must have trained under Gordon Ramsey I suppose. I wouldn’t know about being served miracles, that’s more a course to suit your own tastes, though the flavour of this whimsical hand grenade certainly detonates pleasingly across my palate!

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    • Hello Hariod,

      I have perhaps given away a bit too much of late regarding my own lack of culinary finesse. When I arrived in the kitchen, I was invited to take up a position at the onion-dicing station. Hafiz handed me some sort of trick onion with a wink and invited me to “peel away until there’s nothing left”. I don’t know if he meant me, or the onion. Since then, it’s been layers and layers, a few tears, and peeling and peeling. Lots of giggling winks and encouragement from the sauciers, though.

      I think the context in which the word miracle is used within A Course in Miracles, and subsequently in A Course of Love, may not be as far afield from your tastes as you might think, for there the term refers to a shift in perception. I think it is similar to what you have called “insight” in your own book. What is false, is forgiven and disappears from view, and is replaced with… well, you know. Clarity, peace, love… Miracles are also described as expressions of Love, and I think the notion is that seeing one another as we are, and not as the images we habitually perceive, is in some way (not of small measure) a gift, or a blessing, in the sense that it invites clarity from those with whom we are in relationship. While the clarity might not emerge instantaneously, the Courses suggest that these gifts are truly given and received, and flower in time. Importantly, none are ever lost.

      A miracle isn’t necessarily an inexplicable physical phenomenon then, as much as it is a shift in understanding, a joining with others in unity (not necessarily involving reciprocal acknowledgment, tacit or otherwise, at the time), or a seeing through difficulty.

      Michael

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  3. Another delicious dish served up in a collaborative way. One of life’s great joys is cooking, eating, drinking, and laughing together. It creates an inexpressible warmth–that you just expressed beautifully.

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    • Thanks, John. You’re right, one of life’s joys is sharing in the doing of simple things together. The miracle here is the recovery of that warmth, realizing we are alive in the midst of it. Though I confess I don’t always recognize the invitations… It makes the times when life is so full that much sweeter.

      Michael

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    • Thank you, Sarah. Creation is a meal that’s continuously served, always surprises, and never ends, and never the same dish twice… Unless you have a special request of the chef, of course. 🙂

      Michael

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    • Thank you, Eric. Expectation is indeed a miracle buster, to be sure. My sense of the miracle is, as I described to Hariod earlier today, a subtle shift in perception that redecorates one’s inner awareness… as in a shift from deliberating over static choices, to discovering one’s place within the embrace of the creative fray. One moment we’re on the outside, the next at the heart of it all, and a miracle brooks this transition. I think in both Courses, Jesus speaks of miracle-readiness, or miracle-mindedness, which I believe is akin to what I think you are suggesting in the word anticipation. Where expectations imply an entitlement of sorts, anticipation implies a response, or a relationship, and that is indeed far closer to the heart of it.

      Thanks for your note,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad that you didn’t put salt on the note and eat it, politely. I’m just moments after my own teary meeting with the onion and the cutting board, now enjoying the smells wafting this way. I love how finding your words fills me with remembrance that my kitchen is actually full of the joy and ruckus of many comrades.

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    • Had the note been served with olive oil and a dash of pepper, an altogether different outcome may have obtained. I love how you describe the remembrance of your kitchen. It reminds me that writing is kind of like pulling up a chair amid the ethereal ruckus, and then alternating between moments of feverishly taking dictation and slamming your fist on the table hoping someone, anyone, will notice how inconsiderate it is for a crowd to be carrying on ten conversations at once while someone– yourself specifically– are trying to get at least a shred of something fully formed onto paper.

      Michael

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  5. Ha! loved this Michael. The pace is near perfect. It takes me back there as more often, I’ve been one of the ones in the kitchen, throwing the tomatoes or burning the meatballs, yelling “Behind you!” and ducking knives as I pass through like a winged Mercury. Exhilarating. One encounters speeds of light while witnessing the creation of delicacy…all on the other side of the door.

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    • Thank you, Jana. That is a great kitchen in which to find oneself! Dropping a pinch of time itself into the bread, so it will rise. Filling puffed pastries with links to parallel universes. Realizing what meal is being prepared only after it has been prepared. Most importantly, relaxing into the realization that all is well…

      Michael

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    • I’m glad, Colleen. Laughter and profundity are good friends I think. Once seriousness is shattered, we can start to see how much incredible trouble we are really in!

      Michael

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    • Now that it’s out on the table, so to speak, I’m kind of surprised I’ve never seen a restaurant named The Gaping Maw… 🙂 Thank you for taking the time for a quick read, and my sol reveling friend, we are all the secret ingredient.

      Michael

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  6. Since we are part of the chef, we keep surprising ourselves, open for it or not, but when open, it is so much easier to clean the kitchen … 🙂

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    • Yes, indeed, Bert! We are the chef and the humbled guest. When we are open to this, the cleaning is subsumed in the celebration, and is no longer such a chore… 🙂 Thanks for your visit, my friend.

      Michael

      Like

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