By Barb Arland-Fye
Five sirloin tip roasts were cooking in our oven, their seasonings and juices creating a flavorful broth on beds of carrots and onions on which the roasts sat. My husband “Chef” Steve prepared and cooked the roasts for a retirement dinner to honor a longtime volunteer of the museum where Steve volunteers.
Unfortunately, the roasts extended their stay in the Fye oven because they had been a bit too cold when they entered it! Organizers planned the dinner for 5 p.m. Friday night but when Steve placed thermometers in each roast, their temperatures fell short of requirement — just minutes before 5 p.m. Steve called the museum about the delay.
No problem, said the person who answered the phone. The guest of honor had not arrived yet. Steve seemed frazzled nonetheless, worried about disappointing the crowd waiting for dinner to begin. Carving those roasts would take more time. I felt empathy for my husband and thought about all the times he has come to my rescue when I have run behind or faced a dilemma.
Simple acts of gratitude go a long way in marriage and I am mindful of something Pope Francis said: “Thank each other, because the sacrament of marriage is conferred by the two spouses, one to the other. This sacramental relationship is maintained with gratitude.”
Thankfulness calls us to act in gratitude. “Steve,” I said, “Why don’t you take a couple of the roasts that are ready to the museum and I’ll carve the other roasts when they’re done?” It was a brave offer. I have never carved meat. Steve diplomatically declined my offer, but did carve a couple of the roasts and raced to the museum to deliver them. The guest of honor and Steve arrived at the same time.
He returned home for the other roasts, carved them and headed back to the museum. The kitchen, meanwhile, looked like a disaster area with meat shavings and speckles of juice all over the counters, cutting board and stove. Cooking pans, warming trays and utensils with baked-in juices sat out. I felt as if these inanimate objects were looking at me, asking, “Well, are you going to clean us?”
It was another call to gratitude. I scoured and washed the dishes and cleaned the countertops and stove. When Steve arrived home a couple of hours later, he described the meal as a success and then dropped some of the leftovers on the countertops, along with more dirty dishes and utensils. The virtue of gratitude slipped from my grasp. “Steve, I just did all the dishes and now you have brought home more dirty dishes?” He responded cheerfully, “I’ll do the dishes, don’t worry about it.”
His response served as a reminder, a nudge from God, perhaps, that gratitude is not a zero-sum game. The practice of genuine gratitude does not dwell on obligation but focuses on the gift of love God has bestowed on us and we return in our relationships with others. Generosity that comes from my heart does not depend on the recipient’s acknowledgment. Accepting this truth is a work in progress for me.
The aroma of the sirloin tip roasts lingers in my mind, along with God’s gentle reminder about genuine generosity. Maybe it’s time to learn how to carve a roast.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)