No Fail Recipe
About twenty years ago I lived with three religious sisters, all of whom were at least twenty-five years older than me. Although I had learned to cook growing up and cooked for my room mate and myself…cooking for my sisters took me to new levels of challenge.

Our supper meal was an important meal, as it was along with Morning Prayer, the one time we all talked about our day’s work. The sisters were all very good cooks and there was a level of sophistication each night that far surpassed my pre-convent supper meals. So, I asked my mom for some suggestions on some meals I might cook. She told me that she had this “NO FAIL” stew that was both delicious and easy. I thought, great…

I am not a big Jell-O eater, but this group of women really liked Jell-O salads, so I decided to fix Jell-O with fruit cocktail. I had never made this combination before, nor had I ever made Jell-O before, so I put in the mix fruit (juice and all) and the Jell-O mix plus the water. I mixed it up and put it into the refrigerator to chill so it could firm up.

After the Jell-O was made I made the no fail stew and felt really proud of myself for trying new things and creating a lovely dinner. (Up until this time, I think I had made baked chicken at least five times) Suppertime came and I set the table, got the ambience ready for the dining room and checked on my meal. The no fail stew smelled great, but the Jell-O salad was not so firm… I thought give it time.

I called the Sisters to the table, worried that the stew would get cold waiting for everyone to get there…after all I had decided to venture down a new path seeking to crank up the quality of my meals. The Jell-O never firmed up, even when bordered by beautiful lettuce. The first sister to take a forkful of the stew said, “This stew is really hot.” I thought, great it didn’t get cold while we were waiting and praying. Then I tasted the stew and I thought, “Oh my God, this stew is REALLY HOT!!!” I looked around the table and saw tears running down the faces of the three sisters. I quickly got up from the table and got bread out to help put out the flames. I found out later, that Mom’s recipe called for just a teaspoon of pepper, not a tablespoon…makes a big difference.

In today’s readings from the gospel of Matthew (5:13-16) talks about salt that has lost its flavor and about our call to be light on a hill. In my “NO FAIL” stew story, the flavor was lost due to too much flavor. It reminds me of times in my life when I was so enthusiastic to be salt with flavor and a light on a hill that I blinded people with my message. So, as pilgrim seeking to live the message of transformation and healing, my challenge is to live the message from such a deep place inside, that others are drawn by who I am, to ask the question, “What is that “NO FAIL” recipe that she lives her life by?”