“I need to speak with the cook!” These were the words uttered by the woman at the local cafe at which a friend and I were having lunch one day. The woman seemed rather desperate, even agitated, and I at first assumed that she had a complaint to lodge. Perhaps her hamburger had not been cooked to her desired level of done-ness, or maybe she had ordered fries instead of chips. Whatever it was, the matter was urgent and the woman insistent.
“The oatmeal!” she exclaimed. “I have never tasted oatmeal like that in my entire life!” she continued. Turns out that what I had assumed was going to be a complaint was actually unadulterated, unfettered praise. She explained that she was a great lover of oatmeal and that she considered herself somewhat of a connoisseur. She continued to describe the unique characteristics of this particular bowl of oatmeal that deemed it worthy of acclamation. Apparently, it was rather extraordinary oatmeal.
As the woman continued her praise in ever-increasing levels of volume, I commented to my friend that I had never seen anyone quite so passionate about a bowl of oatmeal. Really… even if the oatmeal was extraordinary, just how extraordinary could it be? I mean, it was, after all, still oatmeal, and its not often that oatmeal is the recipient of such levels of heightened passion.
I want that sort of passion in my life. I want to be so bowled over by an experience of the extraordinary in the ordinary that I cannot help but exclaim my praise. Perhaps its just a matter of being more fully present in my life, of allowing my heart and my mind to remain aware and open to an experience of the sacred. I wonder whether the genesis of such passion just might be in seeing more profoundly, in allowing the Spirit to penetrate more deeply.
One of the eucharistic prayers that we say in church puts it this way: “open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us.” The presumption is that God is present and active in every moment and in every space of our lives. The sacred is found all about us, and the reason that we don’t experience “extraordinary oatmeal” more often has much less to do with the existence of extraordinary oatmeal and much more to do with whether our souls are prepared to receive.
May our good and giving God open our eyes and our hearts today. May God grant us an experience of the sacred in the seemingly secular. May the Holy One bestow upon us a taste of extraordinary oatmeal.