Hey, I have a good idea. Feeling frustrated? Irritated by some circumstance in your day? Why don't you go ahead and try to make one of the more difficult pasta dishes by hand, from scratch? It's sure to be therapeutic in an opposite sort of way.
Yes, that was me today-- plunging ahead into a ravioli making endeavor even though I spent most of the morning struggling to look at my children without losing it on them, listening to whining and fighting, missing my husband who has been gone most of the week and last night and now today as well, dealing with the same water spilling and bowl breaking issue over and over again with this little one year old.
So after the little guy was down for his nap and the other two were happily engaged, I started rolling out the pasta dough and brushing the edges and filling the little squares, some with pumpkin and some with a spinach/ricotta filling. Starting out, I really did think I was kind of an idiot, knowing how foul a mood I was in and thinking that if this didn't go well it was only my own fault for attempting it on the least patient and long-suffering of days.
Thankfully, it all went fine. The dough did not stick to the counter in a huge sheet of gluey mess as it had in my one and only previous attempt at fresh pasta making. The filling was ready thanks to prep I did earlier in the week, so the process overall was less tedious and time consuming. The kitchen was not a flour covered sea of disaster and did not take long to clean up. The cute little things looked good with their rustic fork pressed edges, and were even kind of fun to pull together.
And the quiet, hand-consuming work gave me a little time to reflect, to let my mind wander over the day and the little people that have filled it. Imps, urchins, cantankerous little devils with wills and selfish needs all their own. That is how I responded to them most of the morning. There were a few glimpses of hope, a few moments where goodness seemed to seep in the edges of the conversation and sprinkle a few drops of grace on an otherwise stormy situation, but most of the time I was on edge and raw. I could see the mirror slapping me in the face as I implored one child to think not of his own interests... but remember that Jesus always ignored his own rights and poured out his love for us, even when we were at that very time sinning against him. I just kind of sat there, quiet-- the child waiting for me to say more-- and all I could think of was my own need to digest this.
Later, as I was carefully pressing the edges of each little pocket of pasta, all the words I had read over the week seemed to converge in my mind.
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." Mark 9:35-36One of the more staggering things about our great God is the very particular way he cares for each and every human life, and calls that one life sacred. In that, he calls me to join him, even as he knows I am an impatient, selfish woman who is constantly veering back towards my own needs and wants. He must have known all that when he looked at his flesh-crusted disciples and said to them, "whoever receives one such child in my name receives me." He knew he was calling incapable people to act like him.
I have to find some kind of precious hope in that, when feeling incredibly full of incapability. How do you get there, from I am super irritated and can't say nice things to you, to receiving and responding to these children as if they were the God-man himself?
A little like ravioli making maybe? You confess that you are an idiot. You admit it seems a task with little prospect of going well. You believe that it is still worth your time and effort to go ahead with. You plunge ahead. You pray for grace, for help. And the Spirit of God always helps us in our weaknesses. He is real, our faith is required, trust is implied, and obedience is the way forward.