Skip to main content

pasta lesson

I am challenged in certain areas of inter-personal and social skills. Embarrassing sometimes, really. I don't know why talking to certain types of people is so easy for some and so difficult for me. I was asking God about this last night and he reminded me of the pasta man in Cayo Santa Maria.

There was a guy who made pasta to your specifications at the buffet in the Cuban resort we were at in February. I decided to have the pasta for lunch one day and noticed that the man was training a young guy for the job. The experienced pasta man stood to the side while I instructed the young fellow on which ingredients to put in my sauce (just pointed at stuff because my Spanish is no good and I didn't know how well he spoke English). While the sauce was simmering, he scooped the spaghetti into a bowl to dump it in boiling water. He took one scoop. Then he took a second scoop. Oh boy, I really didn't need a second scoop. I am not a huge eater and hate wasting food, but I bit my tongue and decided just to let him do his thing because he was new. The older pasta man jumped in at this point and wagged a long finger at me while yelling animatedly at his young colleague.

"Look at her face. Just look at her face! It is too much!" The pasta man scooped out half of the noodles and let the young man finish my dish, adding more instructions in Spanish about keeping your eyes on the customer, at least that's what it sounded and looked like to me.

I was immediately struck by the force of what he had said and felt an exclamation mark hovering over the scenario, like God was attention to what just happened here.

In the past few weeks I have failed quite a few times in how I interact with people. Many times I am oblivious to how my actions are affecting those around me. Other times when I do see how people respond, I fail to do anything about it, frozen by the fear that it might become a messy situation if I address it and assume it is just better to leave things alone, brush them off as if they did not happen or are no big deal. And this is how one overlooks the weak, the needy and all their subtle cries for help. This is how one never has the courage to address misunderstandings and deepen friendships by walking through conflict in love. This is how denial becomes part of ones modus operandi. This is how my inner turmoil gets worse instead of finding a healthy way of being working out.

Look at their faces! All those people God has put around me. I must see them, look at them, and notice what is written on their faces. Then I must have the courage to do something about it, change my patterns of behaviour, and become a servant.

Easier said than done. God help me in this one.

This is a picture from Remedios, Cuba.


Anonymous said…
Matte, I don't know how it is possible but almost everything that you write here resonates in my life too. Man, I simply wish I had the eloquence to explain it and I thank God that you do! Thank you for all your words of encouragement and wisdom (even if they weren't necessarily with that express purpose! :D). Amazing. Becca xxx
Matte Downey said…
thanks Becca. your words are a boost to my soul and God knows we all need a boost every now and again. :-)
Shelley said…
Wow this one sounds simple but it is so requires me to stop and think about the other person...which sounds like 'duh', but I get so focussed on my own agenda...this one is hard. It is a conscious choice, it doesn't come naturally to me.

Popular posts from this blog

what does the cross mean?

Words which we use a lot can sometimes become divested of their depth of meaning. In the Christian tradition, we talk about the cross a lot. We see visual representations of the cross in prominent places in our gathering spaces, we wear crosses around our necks, some get crosses tattooed on their bodies. The cross is a ubiquitous symbol in Christianity, so lately I have been asking myself, what exactly does the cross mean? For the most part, the cross as portrayed in contemporary Christianity is a beautiful thing, festooned with flowers and sunsets and radiant beams of light (just google cross or cross coloring page). But in the first century, the cross was a symbol of disgrace. To the Roman empire, this ignoble instrument of death was for those who were traitors and enemies of the state. We are many centuries removed from this view of the cross as the locus of torture and death and shame. The fact that Christianity has made the cross a symbol of hope and beauty is a good thing, but p…

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.


When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…