A Jar of Jelly

As we travel the path to perfection, the Spirit of God is constantly teaching us in ways known and unknown. Many of these lessons are so subtle as to be almost lost to our conscious, but actually nothing is lost as our subconscious retains all that is of value to our spiritual progression. Daily events provide us with a constant opportunity to put into play the eternal truths that will move us step by step towards perfection. Even something as mundane as a jar of jelly can used to instruct.

It was just a jar of jelly, I thought, but my wife was nearly in tears. "We have to go back," she said.

I didn't really want to return to the restaurant that we had left just a few minutes ago. I was anxious to start the four-hour trip home and this unexpected delay tested my patience. "The last thing John said when we left was 'Mom, don't forget your jelly," my wife said, "but I did."

I said nothing as I turned the car around, but I pictured how happy my wife had been that morning as she came out of the motel carrying a small white paper sack. "He remembered," she beamed. "I didn't think he would, but bought me some guava jelly."

Our son had just returned from a Caribbean cruise and he had kept his promise to her to bring back 'something'. He had done well. In her eyes, the gift was more than just a jar of jelly. John had not only remembered her, but also knew that his mother had spent many childhood summers at her grandfather's home in Florida. To a little girl growing up in the mid-west, her grandfather's backyard-complete with an orange and a guava tree-was an exotic paradise.

She had taken the jar of jelly into the restaurant. "I love it, John," she said as she opened it and tasted it for his benefit. Our son laughed as he recounted how he had spied it at a small shop on a port-of-call and knew she would like it.

It had been less than 30 minutes when we returned to the restaurant. My wife quickly went inside and told her story to the manager. It was a Sunday morning and the restaurant was busy with customers. The manager seemed in no mood to worry about a jar of jelly.

"If it was left on the table and it was opened they probably threw it away," she said unsympathetically. She summoned the busboy for our table anyway. She had hardly started questioning him when he began shaking his head no.

My wife felt he knew very well what she was talking about but didn't press the issue. She came out to the car in tears. She was disappointed in herself for forgetting the jelly at the restaurant but worse, in her mind, she didn't want to tell John. She worried that he would somehow be disappointed in her.

As I reflected on these events, I thought how interesting one simple jar of jelly could connect these people and provide each with a different life lesson. For my son, the jelly had been on opportunity so show love and thoughtfulness. For me, it was an opportunity to show patience and helpfulness. For the manager, it was an opportunity to show sympathy and offer help to a stranger. To the busboy, it could have been an opportunity to demonstrate honesty. And to my wife, it may have been a way to teach self-forgiveness and overcome her fears of worry.

Cosmic law says that these lessons repeat themselves in various forms until they are learned. Each day does bring with it countless opportunities for spiritual growth. As human beings, we delight in the extraordinary to amaze and delight us. Imagine how the multitudes felt when Jesus feed them with a few fish and loaves of bread. How many of them left the mountainside that day and truly reflected on what they had witnessed? How many gained spiritual growth from that amazing event? While many of us seek those 'ah hah' moments, let us not dismiss even the ordinary moment as inconsequential. Even a jar of jelly may provide you with spiritual food for thought.