Tonight we feature a story about love and grace and collard greens from a guest writer, Mauna Hair. Mauna lives in Virginia. Despite (or because of) being cloistered like a nun while babysitting (for 30 years), she still has a pretty positive attitude about people. Her hopes? To one day catch up on the laundry and have the basket remain empty for 4 whole hours…and to be left alone to read a book. She and her husband have been married for 37 years (and they still like each other). She is one of the biggest pieces of evidence I have that God does, in fact, love me very much.
I stand gazing at the collards at the local hometown grocery store. I think about how much I hate to clean them, how long it takes and all for the smallest handful of return after the boiling water has wilted them. For a reason I will never know I feel a wave of affection for my husband because he really does love them. I throw them in the cart: enough, but not so many my hands will shrivel up before they are all washed. I take a picture of them soaking in the water and send it to him, telling him I am cooking him collards because I love him. He will know this is true because he knows I hate to do it. I get them cooking and go off to clean windows, which always takes me much longer than I think it will. I leave the weaving room to answer the phone and I smell it. Scorched collards. Racing to the kitchen I find them so burnt I will not only lose the whole pan, but incur another dreaded kitchen chore–scrubbing. The heater (which has been running non-stop because it is finally cold outside) has drug the burnt collard smell into every small corner of the house. In an effort to try to cover up the smell I spray Lysol into the heater area which not only doesn’t cover the smell, but if possible, makes it much worse. And just in case the smell in the house wears off before he arrives from work, he’ll know the stench well because now my hair also reeks.
I think this is how marriage is a lot. I have this small feeling of kindness in me that for some unexplained reason spurs me to do something, only to have it not work out quite like I think it will. A spoken word, a small gift, collards. It feels worse because there is sometimes clean up to do, and no amount of “Life Lysol” can cover up a botched plan.
I think how God must feel, sending small blessings, little gifts, affirmations, love taps to us. We are too busy or distracted, or in a bad mood to receive. How he keeps trying anyway. Unmerited grace and mercy and love. And I think I know where those unexplained waves of affection and do-good-ish-ness come from. Spill over. When my head and heart are in the right place I am full of the soul food God sent me, so full it spills onto others.
I text my husband again telling him I hope my good intentions count for something, but to not get his taste set for collards with dinner. Maybe his next wife will love collards and love cooking them, but I hope she sucks at making gravy.