Lemon fragrance filled my kitchen as I gently shook the hot pan, releasing a half-dozen miniature bundt cakes. Quickly, while they were still hot, I glazed them with lemon juice and sugar so that when they cooled they would be slightly crunchy and tart.
Playing with my new computer program, I made certificates announcing my annual You Take the Cake awards. Each recipient was thanked for his or her patience, good humor, or great service rendered during the year.
I picked the people who least expected it. The copy-shop lady who never sighed or rolled her eyes as she helped me sort, collate, laminate my many projects. The postal clerk who always waited on me and bore with patience and good humor the long lines of fidgety people at holiday and tax seasons. You get the picture. I wanted each one to know I noticed, appreciated, and felt they deserved to take the cake. Thus the award. With as little ceremony as I could, I left the awards and cakes about my community.
How we behold one another can go further than cakes and kind gestures. Every day provides opportunities to encourage and nurture one another as we go about our busy days. Songwriter Christine described it as not letting "the moment slip away." Sometimes that moment is lost when we could have said or done something kind because we were waiting for the right moment. Or we doubt our ability to be God-inspired in expressing love and are concerned about how it will be received. If you get entangled with these concerns, you may never venture forth to become a spontaneous giver, generous in acknowledging your love of others.
The Bible is full of examples of people caring for the needs of others. We have a great example in the story of Christ Jesus and the loaves and the fishes. A crowd of people had been following him, learning from his teaching. At some point it became obvious that they needed to eat something but they were far from any marketplace where they could obtain it.
But Christ Jesus was not limited in his thinking as to how to feed these people. His disciples were worried; all they had were five loaves of bread and two fishes. Christ Jesus asked that they all sit down, and then he blessed that food and instructed his disciples to distribute it. "And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children" (Matt. 14:14-21). An abundance of love supplied the need abundantly.
Two things about that story stand out to me. The first is the motive of Jesus. The Bible tells us he was "moved with compassion toward them [the crowd]." That nurturing love met every need. His ministry was practical as well as inspirational. The second is the obedience of the disciples, which enabled them to trust that there would be enough food to go around.
The disciples didn't have time to worry about the reaction to the meal (you don't hear of anyone saying the loaves weren't up to par or the fishes fresh enough). They weren't asked to prepare the food, just to distribute it.
We are also asked to trust that our offerings are always enough, just right, nourishing others. We may feel moved to give a tangible symbol of love - food or an inspirational book or magazine. Or perhaps we'll give a kind word, noticing something about another. We may be asked to pray for someone who is struggling with sorrow, sickness, or pain.
The woman who founded this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Millions of unprejudiced minds - simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert - are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ's name, and never fear the consequences" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 570).
This admonishing has helped me release concern about my loving gestures or prayers being appreciated or appropriate. I just love, trying to be like the disciples and to distribute Love's abundance that I have in my heart, without feeling self-conscious or fearful about the consequences.
We give and take each day as we experience the same hillside meal of Christly love.