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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Musgo Soup

This morning as I opened the fridge to get out breakfast, I spotted a pot of broth there, and flashed back to a meal I enjoyed a number of years ago. I was at my sister’s house, and she’d made what she referred to as “Musgo Soup.” When I asked what that was, she explained: “Everything in the refrigerator must go.” In short, it was her way of using up ingredients before they could go bad.

I wasn’t much of a soup maker back then, because somehow it had seemed to me like a mysterious art. I didn’t even have a recipe. But then, neither did my sister. And that soup was memorably good. It was the sort of food that makes you feel disappointed when you run out of appetite.

It wasn’t long before I decided to try my own hand at Musgo Soup. It turned out that not only was it good, it was easy. Because nobody had a particular expectation about how it was supposed to turn out, nobody could tell me I’d done it wrong. Working without a recipe turned out to be a lot more fun than I’d expected.

Since then, I’ve learned to cook what’s available, and to adlib without a recipe, a lot. It’s saved us on grocery bills and added some variety to our dinners. Even more, I think there’s a lesson in it about life itself. We’ve all heard “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, when life gives you leftovers, make Musgo Soup. When you approach food, and life, like every ingredient is a bowlful of potential it’s a lot easier to enjoy what you have, and to make the most of it, than if you lament instead that it isn’t prime rib. The key to getting the most out of life’s great kitchen isn’t to have all the best ingredients on hand, but to put your best into whatever you happen to have. Whatever it is you make, or do, treat it like it’s what you really love and be the best you can be at it.

Sometimes God’s vocations are loud and clear. “Francis, rebuild my Church.” But sometimes God doesn’t call so audibly. Sometimes we just happen into a vocation by wandering toward it, or even by being stuck with it. Even if we are not doing what we want to be doing, God is still calling us to give it our best. And sometimes, Musgo is the most delicious dish on the menu, if we but give it a chance.