I often am inspired by everyday things, simple interactions, beautiful moments: the sunset and the emergence of twinkling lights on the hills and mountains around the city, the fog that rolls down into my neighborhood from over the mountains, fresh flowers, a heart-felt laugh, the moldy rice in my large aluminum pot. You didn’t see the last one coming, did you? While not a “beautiful moment” and very fortunately, not something that happens daily, the rice I discovered molding the other day in the pot on my stove, was nonetheless a source of inspiration.
You see, I like to eat rice and lots of it. I admit, I am not an amazing cook and prefer making meals that consist of 7 ingredients or less. Preferably much less. Unlike my mother, my sister, both of my grandmothers, and my aunts, I don’t usually make elaborate meals. But I do make excellent rice, which for me, nearly suffices as a complete meal and a food group unto itself.
Last week, I made a large pot of rice one night and not wanting to put the pot in the fridge while it was still warm I left it covered overnight on the stove. No problem there. The next day, though, inertia took over and the pot stayed on the stove. It seemed comfortable there. And the next day. And unlike usual, I decided I didn’t want plain leftover rice for my lunch at work. I would eat out with my co-workers, and so, the rice sat yet another day. And perhaps another day, I’m not really sure. Either way, when I went a few (or more, I’m embarrassed to admit) days later to have some rice, to my shock and dismay, I discovered it was molding! I didn’t really think that was possible in Quito. After all, it is rather cool (and there’s no heat in my apartment building) and it was just rice…. however, beneath the lid of my shiny, relatively new pot, my rice was molding!
And that was my moment of inspiration. Something so seemingly benign–rice–not fruit or meat or cheese, which would be more obvious candidates for hosting mold–was decaying due to neglect and in the midst of apparent cleanliness. At first glance, my kitchen was clean, but anyone who dared to remove that lid, would discover a different reality.
Sometimes our lives are like this. To outward appearances, everything is fine, clean, and shiny, but insight, something is horribly wrong. Perhaps it is just rice…we didn’t leave any meat out to rot…we haven’t killed anyone or stolen anything big or committed any of the really “bad sins.” But perhaps, we are harboring a grudge against a friend or co-worker. Maybe we didn’t tell a blatant lie, but we left an impression that was less than truthful. We didn’t insult someone to their face, but our disgusted look left no mystery as to what we think of that ineffective co-worker or irresponsible family member. Perhaps we haven’t gone out of our way to make anyone feel badly, but our neglect and indifference has made some people wonder if we still care about them.
This unfortunate pot of molding rice has made me consider some seemingly “harmless” areas I have perhaps neglected in my life. For example, words that are carelessly spoken hurt others. A bad attitude harbored inside creates resentment and alienates friends. Is there any moldy rice in your life…or anything that seems harmless enough now, but could be on its way to creating decay? With God’s help, take care of it now, for God has called us not to just avoid the so called, “big sins,” but to be holy–to be free from sin and decay in our lives.
I Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, prepare your minds for action: be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (NIV)