Garbo’s Da Name, Garbage Is My Game! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We have an indispensable “kitchen angel” (a true paisano) named Signor Garbo. We say “indispensable” because, honestly, we couldn’t get along without him … or the valuable service he provides. Garbo doesn’t say much, but he can handle whatever we throw at him. And we throw a lot at him: slimy egg shells, bruised and quickly browning fruit peelings, and paper towels soggy from mopping up various liquids we’ve spilled — to list just a few of the icky things we dump on Garbo. But our old friend takes it all in stride. He knows we need a way of getting rid of “stuff” — which is how he came into our lives in the first place.

Garbo is our kitchen trash can. He knew we had a “problem” in the form of unpleasant things that needed to be removed from our lives in the kitchen. “I’m in da disposal bizness,” he told us one day. “Yeah, I know. It’s a doity job, but somebody’s gotta do it!”

True, every kitchen needs a trash can, a place to put all the unpleasant things generated during the process of cooking and eating, like the stinky fish head we recently lopped off so we could finish preparing dinner. “Don’t worry ’bout it,” Garbo reassured us. “I’ll take care of dis.”

Garbo is a loner. Not that he has to be, he’s an accepted and valued part of our kitchen. But he realizes that he daily has a lot of contact with some pretty vile things. He once told us, “Da stuff I’m holdin’ inside me don’t exactly bring out da best conversation.” So he absents himself from the company of our family of kitchen angels. Signor Garbo chooses instead to hang out under the kitchen sink, behind closed cabinet doors. But when things don’t go as planned, like the other day when we fumbled what should have been a routine job — making a jelly sandwich and, yes, the bread always does land jelly-side down — we call on Garbo to help us clean up the scene of the crime. “My job is ta help get rid of da garbage,” Garbo proudly states. “An’ I’m da best at whut I do.”

Periodically, Garbo’s contents get driven to the outskirts of town to be “dropped off”! Garbo says it’s for the best: “Dat way, we get rid of all da evidence — no one’s ever gonna know ya ate all dem cookies by yaself!”  Yes, it’s true, Garbo is also the custodian to a few secrets which, should they ever come to light, might prove somewhat embarrassing. “Relax, will ya?” he reassures us. “I know da best way ta handle a nasty bit a bizness! After all, I’m a professional!”

Aha, Signor Garbo is a professional! And we amateurs can learn a valuable lesson from him. We certainly did. We once rented a movie for our Friday Date Night. It was a seemingly innocuous bit of escapist fare, but 15 minutes into the story there was a totally disgusting act of violence which, although off camera, was extremely nauseating to think about. Along with that, an overuse of vulgarity and a truly dark depiction of life had us feeling positively ill. In fact, we felt (to quote Garbo) “absotively doity!”

Needless to say, we immediately stopped watching the movie. Still, we almost felt like we needed a bath. Now, mind you, we’re not a couple of fuddy duddies, but there’s a limit to what we’re willing to toss into our heads! For one thing, it’s counterproductive: just as “we are what we eat,” we’re also what we put into our minds; or, we are what we think about! (Proverbs 23:7)

Regardless, Garbo read us the riot act. “Whut were ya thinkin’? I collect da garbage in dis house! You ain’t designed ta hold such trash!” And he’s right. The Word of God teaches that once we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives, our Lord takes full occupancy; every follower of Christ then becomes a “temple of the Holy Spirit”! (1 Corinthians 6:19) And, need we state it? God does not want to live in a trash can. “But dat’s da point, you’re NOT a trash can!” Garbo fumes. “Dat’s my job! So stop fillin’ your heads wit garbage!”

Okay, okay! We get it! We should only put wholesome things into our minds. We need to stick to the Apostle Paul’s formula: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Garbo says, “Hey, you. Yeah, you! You know who I’m talkin’ to. You’re NOT a trash can! So stop tryin’ ta muscle in on my territory! Don’t be readin’ or watchin’ or listenin’ ta junk dat don’t pass da stinkin’ garbage test! Kapeesh?”

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The Secret Origin of Valentine’s Day

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Today, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day (February 14), we’ll preempt our regularly scheduled series for a closeup look at this special occasion.

St. Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, as it’s known in the Anglican Church, honors by name a 3rd-Century Christian who was martyred for his faith. (There’s at least one other Saint Valentine, perhaps even two, also variously remembered every February 14, but we’ve chosen to tell the traditional story of the aforementioned martyr, Valentinus.)

The Roman emperor Claudius II passed a law forbidding Christian worship. Breaking this law was punishable by death, but Valentinus refused to stop following and practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ. So he was arrested and given a death sentence. While imprisoned and awaiting for his sentence to be carried out, Valentinus found favor with his jailer. Realizing that Valentinus was a man of learning, the jailer asked the Christian if he would tutor his daughter, Julia, who had been blind since birth. Valentinus quickly agreed and soon discovered his pretty young pupil had a sharp mind. He read her stories, taught her arithmetic, and told her about his God.

Julia was able to see the world through the eyes of Valentinus. She trusted in his wisdom and found comfort for her blindness in the man’s quiet strength. One day she asked Valentinus, “Does God really hear our prayers?”

“Yes, my child,” replied Valentinus, “He hears each one.”

Julia then explained how she prayed for sight every morning, asking Valentinus if he believed God would answer her prayers. He replied, “God does what is best for us if we only believe in Him.”

That day, Julia knelt and grasped her tutor’s hands. Together they prayed, and Julia accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. Legend teaches that at that moment a brilliant light flooded the tiny prison cell, and Julia received her sight! A happy ending? For Julia, yes; but the story’s ultimate ending is bittersweet. Late one evening, Saint Valentinus wrote Julia a letter, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it “from Your Valentine.” The next morning, on February 14, 270 A.D., he was taken from prison to his place of execution, a spot now called Porta Valentini in his honor. He was buried at what is today the Church of Praxedes in Rome.

According to legend, Julia often visited his grave, and nearby she planted a pink-blossomed almond tree. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship! And the Feast of Saint Valentine commemorates this kind of unselfish love.

Valentine’s Day is not just for married couples or people who are dating. In fact, the holiday didn’t become associated with romantic love until the High Middle Ages (around the 12th Century) when the bawdy storyteller Geoffrey Chaucer popularized the notion. So, feel free to spread some good cheer among your friends and coworkers. Yes, even if you’re not particularly crazy about a few of them. Don’t have coworkers? Then hug your pooch! Don’t have a pooch? Then hug your neighbor’s pooch. Your neighbor doesn’t have a pooch? Then hug your neighbor. No, wait! That might not be the best advice!

Guys, remember that nothing says “I care” quite like flowers. There’s still time to grab some from the nearest market. And if you don’t have enough coin for roses, you can usually find a small, mixed flower “Fun Bunch” at most grocers. Ahem, cards are nice, too.

Ladies, after you finish agreeing with us, please remind yourselves that gift giving is not gender specific. Some ideas: prepare a special meal or dessert; or pick up a little token that let’s him know you appreciate him — like a new pair of socks. (You know, something he can drop on the floor when he pulls them off.)

Make it a point to do something nice for the people you care about and/or appreciate. Help bring a smile to their faces. Make someone happy!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   (Maya Angelou, American author, poet, singer and actress, 1928-2014)

Please consider this post as our Valentine to you. We’ve had the pleasure of knowing and chatting with a few of our readers, but the rest of you…. No, you’re not strangers!

“There are no strangers here; Only friends (we) haven’t yet met.” (William Butler Yeats, Irish Poet, 1865-1939)  Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends!

“…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NASB)

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