A couple of days ago, I think it was Tuesday night, I decided to cook for the week. I filled one of my biggest pots with meat and put it on the stove and turned on the gas as low as I could… I didn’t want to use the crockpot, so I thought I could just cook the meat for a couple of hours at low, and then the next day, when I had more time and energy to cook, I would finish off the cooking. (Browning, making soup, and freezing whatever I needed for the future.)
After 2 hours, I decided to raise the heat to medium so that it would cook quickly. I did this as I was getting on the phone, so I reasoned that I would attend to the stove right before I went to bed. That was probably around 9pm. It was a little cold, so I decided to get in bed to keep warm as I talked on the phone. The next time I got up, it was a little before 2am. I turned, but I could hear a “hissing” sound, and there was a very strong smell. The sound was drops of vapor that were falling from the top of the lid of the scorched pot, onto the bottom of the waterless hellishly hot bottom of the pot!
I turned on the lights to find that my place was filled with smoke and for some reason, the smoke detector didn’t go off, even though it was flashing (meaning that the battery was okay and it was “working”?). I turned off the stove, removed the plate from the stove, sprinkled a paper towel with a generous amount of lemon juice and covered the meant with the towel and covered the pot again. I had read somewhere that paper towels, and newspapers are good at absorbing smells, and lemon juice is also a good odor killer. Came back to bed, and I couldn’t just stand the smell of burnt food all over the house. I thought I felt dizzy at one point. I opened all the windows and the living room curtains. I came back to bed and I couldn’t sleep, so I spent the next 3 hours or so, listening to inspiring teachings from a retreat that I had found online. The windows were open for the next two days and the smell almost vanished. Oh, lighting candles overnight helped the other day.
Anyway, I had to come home for lunch on Wednesday to throw away all the meat – I was seething! I debated whether to throw away the burnt pot with the burnt meant or try to savage what I could from the pot. It was the worst burning I had every seen. 4 hours of medium gas heat is not a joke. I think the burning happened in the last 30 minutes to an hour before I got up, but still. I decided to try cleaning the pot. So after removing the black and dark brown meat, I filled the pot with water. I added a generous amount of soap, lemon amonia(?), Comet powder (with bleach), and left it alone for about 7 hours. When I cleaned the dishes at night, I decided to give the pot a shot and I was nicely surprised when I threw away the black water, that the pot was as clean as new! It was so unbelievable! I look forward to cooking in it again for many more times.
I wondered what could have happened if I had thrown it away. I could have lost a “good” pot. The fact is, it was not a good pot, but the truth is, it was a good pot. Zengani explained to me the difference between facts and truths years back.
If I had thrown away the pot, I would never have known that it would have been so easy to clean. Not that the knowledge matters much for its own sake, but it changed the fate of my future pots, should they burn.
How is this related to spirituality?
Well, when we sin or do something wrong, we become scorched one way or the other, in the eyes of some of our fellow men, and possibly in the eyes of God. It may be easier for men and God to write us off than give us another chance. It may be even harder for ourselves to give ourselves another chance, to say that something good may become of us, only if we could find a way to clean the burned pot that we have become. How does the cleaning happen? Well, it may start off by us recognizing that something bad has happened and we need to take some corrective action. May be ask for forgiveness, may be commit to not committing the mistake or sin again. May be we need to change our mindset and look at the possibility of things being better instead of throwing the soul away together with the man/body which would have happened if I had thrown away the meat with the pot.
That was my small moment of spirituality as I meditated on the significance of the burnt meat, pot, and how I was able to give the pot a new life.
Of course, later on I realized that I could have died from the smoke inhalation. I could have become sick at the least. But none of that happened. Why am I still alive? It is a question that I try to answer each day when I make it home safe, when I consider the many times I could have died on the road, etc. A fire could have started from the burning of the pot – I don’t know how, but it seems possible that it could have happened. It didn’t. So much grace, so much to be thankful for. So many reasons to try to live a better life each day. So many reasons to embrace life and appreciate what I have.