"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread... Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast".... Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead."
John 21: 12-14
The atmosphere in our home took a significant change for the better Friday evening. One load of clean clothes was sitting in a basket and draped across the back of a living room chair, waiting to be put away after a time of rest. A simple one pot meal had been assembled in the ancient red LeCruset pot and now I once again was up to my elbows in hot, sudsy dishwater. While not perfect, life had returned to some form of normal.
My thoughts were on that which was most important in life, that it so often all comes down to the preparation of meals and the provision of clothing and shelter. I thought how I'd read stories of patients with terminal illnesses and how they would so often miss the simple things of life as they lay bedridden... how the making of a meal was now more desired than a trip around the world. For such is the basics of life and love and family.
The last thing my father did for me before leaving this world was to make breakfast. I remember walking in the kitchen that day after leaving the emergency room... the breakfast dishes still on the table where he'd left them before leaving the house and suffering a heart attack while I sat in a 5th grade classroom. My favorite meal to this day is breakfast... when someone else cooks it. :)
My thoughts and ponderings found themselves settling in that part of Scripture (above) where the Resurrected Christ is to be found on a Mediterranean beach... cooking a breakfast of fish over coals for His friends. I must admit I had to look it up as I'd forgotten at the end of which Gospel the story was given... I should have known it would have been John who had recorded this act of friendship.
What a scene of love as the One who had said It Is Finished waited for those He called to be fishers of men to return to the shore... a loving Friend preparing fish for the fishermen... before His return to the Father... many lessons still to impart.
While teaching them much about life on this morning beach, I wonder if His friends would think back to that morning breakfast of fish and bread when the days became long and the trials overwhelmed... knowing the promise of a Banquet lay ahead.
One of the best fish meals I ever ate was in an out-of-the-way diner set off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were on our honeymoon in North Carolina and the trout had been caught in the stream which flowed behind the restaurant. It doesn't get much fresher than that. That was over thirty years ago and we still compare all fish dinners to that one.
Long ago, a close friend and I were having a conversation about Heaven and letting our imaginations think of what it may be like someday. As I was sharing with her those things which would make it all Heaven, she laughed and told me I was the only person she'd ever heard of that saw hours spent in a kitchen as heavenly. But I always knew Jesus would understand... the One who invited his friends to a cookout on the beach.
When I think of my mother, I imagine myself sitting across from her at a favorite diner with coffee and a piece of pie or eating frozen custard on a hot summer evening at the park near her house. I remember Stephanie's first taste of that frozen custard as Mamaw placed the cone next to infant lips and a lifelong love was born... Steph and ice cream. :)
There is something about the preparing of food that... to me... is central to being created in the image of a creative God. It is food which gives life and in the chopping and slicing and stirring... I am partaking in that life giving process once again.
The breaking of bread together (or a shared piece of banana cream pie at a diner) brings with it the intimacy of fellowship... the laughter which is between mother and daughter and tiny granddaughter in memories of long ago. Many memories... too many to count... where food was the bridge of fellowship between myself and others... new friends and old... family as well as strangers.
I wonder how many of us truly realize the importance of the simple meal in this age of celebrity chefs... the breakfast made by a father... homemade soup simmered by mother for her child with fever... cookies always in a cookie jar... the same dessert or salad or casserole served at annual family events... the aroma of ham every Easter or turkey on Thanksgiving afternoon... a breakfast of fish and bread to tired fishermen.
I'd have been tempted to whip up some Israeli couscous or a side of Jerusalem salad to serve that morning but Jesus kept it simple and delicious and let the life return to body and soul. Somehow I can just see Him smiling as he checked the flakiness of the fish now cooked and tore apart the dark, dense bread... He understood the joy in returning to the kitchen... between the Cross and the Upper Room with Heaven yet to come.