Friday, August 31, 2007

Different work

God's provision continues. The daycare job ended and I was asked to help with a dinner party for 30 people at a private home in a million dollar neighborhood. Let me jump right into one scene:

I am out on this rich man's patio at dusk all alone. A huge orange moon is rising and I am sweating at the gas barbeque on this hot, humid night grilling shrimp kebobs and filet mignons. I have never grilled anything outdoors in my life! A radio station is competing with the sounds of the night insects as "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" plays through the outdoor speakers. As I wait to turn the meat, I look across the field in back of the house into the wall of windows of another home, a mirror image of this one, and watch a family eating in front of a mammoth TV screen. This is wild! I would never have imagined I would be doing this tonight. I had to admit, it was kind of fun.

Earlier in the evening I had assisted the chef in setting up 4 tables, one in the windowed sunroom off the kitchen, one in the formal dining room and two in the basement next to a fully stocked bar. I had the chef show me the set-up first. I surely don't know how to do fancy table settings. I chopped scallions for a potato salad and apricots for the couscous and skewered shrimp and scallops on wooden sticks. The chef was in the midst of roasting vegetables and needed something from the store and had to leave. Panic! What do I do? (Me, who has been a cook for at least 35 years!) But it was an intimidating setting and I was worried about messing up. And I did. I was only to set the timer, turn the veggies, and then take them out on time. Well, in turning off the timer, I turned off this complicated digital convection oven and the vegetables didn't exactly roast the way they were supposed to--but all was well in the end.

When the owners of the house went upstairs to get dressed, the chef and I sneaked a peek at a few rooms in this mansion, now all aglow with candles. It was quite impressive but our footsteps echoed in the vastness. With so many rooms, what do you do with them all? Even the owners didn't know, I guess. Some rooms were totally empty of furniture.

Couples started arriving, women in colorful, strapless sundresses and spiky heels slip-sliding on the slick hardwood floors, the men in khakis and polo shirts. I've always been a people watcher and enjoyed observing the pecking order and noted the discomfort of some of the guests--where to sit, with whom to talk, what light and trivial conversation to think up. I noticed that the women who were at ease with themselves all sat together without the men and their laughter was high and musical as they told inside jokes. One woman sat apart from them, the outsider, and as I collected dishes I overheard her awkward speech, trying to sound sophisticated and smooth when she certainly was not. I felt bad for her. Why was she invited to this party and why didn't she fit in? Oh, give me a couple of good friends sharing a cup of tea at my old kitchen table over this anytime.

I am thankful I didn't drip marinade on the plush carpets as I went up and down the stairs. One guest stood on the stairs to chat with the group, sprawling leisurely across the banister, and didn't move an inch when I tried to slip by him. After all, I was only the hired help. I felt like a servant in the castle of the king from one of my girls' stories. I prayed I wouldn't drop the grilled poundcake with the broiled nectarine topping as I carried three plates at a time to serve the guests downstairs. It's been a long time since my waitressing days. I didn't break anything either as I washed a mountain of dishes. Success!

What did God require of me here? The same as he requires wherever we find ourselves--love and service to others. Well, it was service all right. The love part is a little more difficult. But I'm sure even the glamorous ladies hide hurts and the boisterous men at the bar have unfulfilled dreams and holes in their hearts.

It was late when I got home to my cozy little house. Home to my riches and treasure--my husband who rushes to greet me and tell me how much he missed me these past 8 hours and my two little girls sleeping as I kiss their golden cheeks. What more could I want?

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." I Timothy 6:17.

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