My wife and I went to lunch the other day at a Mexican restaurant. Very tasty food and a cozy bar, although the bar sat empty that hour of the day as we were out in the dining room. I looked at it longingly over the room divider, and suggested to my bride that, should I come up missing on any given evening she might locate me there. After all, one does have an obligation not only to wander off now and then, but to test drive house margaritas to note their octane for future reference. I do have a purpose in life.
At lunch I scanned the menu and immediately thought of that guy on the Food Network who goes in to rescue failing restaurants, often in part by reducing the number of menu items to streamline the operation and to avoid overwhelming the customers with choices. (He usually sledgehammers down a few walls to boot while he's at it, but let's stay focused). This Mexican restaurant and menu have so far escaped the rescue approach, and they appear to be doing pretty well, in spite of not yet having the food guy come in to modify the options and tear up the place. On this particular day I went with the Deluxe Burrito. It was a delicious combination of ingredients, and was well presented. I only wish the waiter had warned me that it’s also the size of a propane tank.
I came, I ate, I staggered out. We could all go on and on about restaurant portions these days, and I’ll speak no more of propane… or methane. But the size of the burrito was out of my control, and next time I’ll know. The number of scoops of ice cream that I will have at home this evening is within my control. And there’s the wonderful rub. It’s that time-stopping moment of silence and decision, the life-altering power of private choices.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not the ice cream police. What I’m trying to get at is, when does a “no” mean “yes” to something else that is honestly more satisfying, and maybe even more life-giving? How will I live in that even sacred moment in time when the choice presents itself, never again in that instance to appear? And what of my inclination to dismiss it as a simple and silly conflict? Maybe it is in this case. Or is this really a shaper of persons? A critical divide? A holy moment?
Are the decisions we make in small, daily, hidden matters actually of greater weight and consequence than we might imagine as we then observe our approach to larger, perhaps public matters? That is to say, what are we doing when no one else is present? Is it true that I am most fully myself when no one is watching? Oh my.
On top of that, what meddlesome God would pry into my choices? It must be to damn. It surely could not be to save. Good(?) God, I must find out.