Wednesday, November 7, 2007
So it turns out I am gifted not only with double-jointed thumbs and the complete inability to make any kind of important life decision, but with a new spice rack. It's the kind that comes with little jars; those little jars in turn sport labels that tell you the spices with which you're supposed to stuff their bulbous bodies. I find the labels a teensy bit dictatorial, but then again, I could use more things with labels in my life. Imagine if objects, and people, came usefully pre-tagged. BAD FOR YOU. GOES WELL WITH CHEESE. NOT WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION.
Come to think of it, most people go well with cheese.
But back to the spice rack: I procrastinated for a respectable amount of time, then set about filling the jars in my happy little OCD way. I funneled in the spices, twisted the lids closed, set each jar in its proper place. Until I came to the jar labeled celery salt. Frankly, there was no way in hell I was going to let any vestige of celery (better known as The Evil) anywhere near me. Even if it was ground up. Even if it was mixed with delicious delicious sodium chloride. Even if it meant that I had to leave an empty jar in my spice rack.
What a sin against compulsiveness! What an irritating irregularity in a regular series! I quailed. Yet, something about the empty jar with its one-eyed glare tripped a memory. Some expression, some aphorism, some dreadfully earnest life lesson. Leave room for Jesus? Nope, that was about horny Christian teenagers. This wasn't about sex; it was about dinner. Set a place for Jesus? That was it. The act of laying a place for someone who might or might not come, of inviting some mix of absence and possibility into your home.
Now, I don't really hold with Jesus. Nevertheless, there's something here I think is important. Some acknowledgement of chaos beating under the skin of the moment, of the stream of delirium or madness or slippery chance running just alongside our trickle of days. Laying a place for Jesus is about making room in your life for the inevitable moment when you look around and think, forcefully and with no irony, what the fuck?
That's what's in the jar. No celery, no salt. Just pure old-fashioned what the fuck? Eat up.