Living thanks


Fr Gerry Hughes SJ had a rich imagination for creating parable relevant to present times. He often used one of these in a homily.

Here is a story that has stayed with me both in essence and effect.

Two women won a national competition. The prize was to have a meal cooked for them by a world-famous chef, at the chef’s home.

The women arrived at the appointed time and rang the bell.

The chef herself opened the door. She was wearing an apron, and in the hallway, there was the most delicious aroma of food.

The first woman was loud with excitement.

She said she’d bought every recipe book the chef had written and now could not believe she was receiving the great honour of having the chef cook for her.

The second woman said nothing.

As the chef ushered them into the living room, the first woman admired the furnishings, drapes, carpet, and waxed lyrical about the fragrance that drifted in from the kitchen.

The second woman who seemed a little shy did not say a word.

They were each given a small glass of sherry while the chef put the last touches to the meal.

During this time, the first woman told the second, how she had followed the chef’s career. Indeed, she had recorded all her TV cooking shows.

The second woman nodded but was still silent.

Then it was time to go to the dining room and sit at the table.

As the chef was serving them, the first woman talked about the perfection of the dishes. She wanted to know every detail of the meal, including the herbs and spices that had been used.

The second woman picked up her knife and fork.

Nothing slowed the first woman’s rapturous talk. She pushed the food around her plate and chatted about cooking techniques. She congratulated the chef on her many culinary awards.

The second woman ate like a hungry dog and then asked the chef for more.

“Tell me,” said Gerry. “Which woman showed the greatest gratitude.”

That story lies deep within me, and it comes to go the surface every time I hear another lament about sin.

Of course, we are sinners! Hooray! That is our growing space!

Our error, deliberate or otherwise, is our teacher. How else would we learn?

Our mistakes bring us closer to God.

Isn’t that marvellous?

Mistaken is how God made us, children growing in wisdom through experience.

If we were perfect, we would have no room for growth.

There is nothing wrong with offering God fine speeches of praise, but that means little if I fail to enjoy the goodness of God in this world.

I need to live my gratitude.

I like the image of God in an apron, welcoming us, nourishing us with abundant life.

I’m sure that’s how the psalmist felt when he wrote, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.”

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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