Chili                                                     October 2018

For one month of my three years, nine months, and 17 days in the Navy I was assigned to the ship’s mess hall, that is the kitchen. When you are cooking on the ship for six hundred hungry fellows at every meal, the level of preparation takes on a whole new scale. On one of the days I found myself in charge of a 25-gallon pot of chili fixin’s. As a Texan, the concept of chili in my mind was quite different from that of the Navy recipe. When I was told to go down, down, down into the ship’s storerooms to fetch some additional ingredients, my temptation to add to the chili recipe was profound. I grabbed two one-pound cans of chili powder and returned to my kettle.

When no one was looking, I dumped both cans into the huge pot and begin to stir with the chef’s oar (yes, like from a boat), and then it happened.   The cry “Attention On Deck!” meant that the Captain was entering the kitchen. We all snapped to attention. Now here is the thing about chili powder. When you drop it into a liquid, it balls up into these little nuggets about the size of a bean and about the color of a bean; these balls mix in with the beans. Suddenly the Captain was standing in front of my cook pot with a table spoon in his hand. Every meal or so he walked the line and sampled the food that was going to be fed to his men. The spoon went into the pot and I saw clearly that he had gathered up beef, and beans and perhaps a chili ball.

Then he swallowed.   Perspiration burst out on his forehead.   His eyes started to water. I saw the beginning of my court martial flash through my mind. Then he said, “WHO made this chili?!” I confessed and waited for the gavel to come down. The Captain said, “Finally someone that knows how to make good chili.” I started breathing again.

We, each of us, are unique in all the world. Hand made, we are individually created by the Maker of the Universe. He looks upon his craftsmanship and says, “This is good.” We may be a bean, or a ball of chili, but He loves us nevertheless.   We may be a tiny part of our 25-gallon sphere of influence, but He loves us for how we fit in. As we are dashed about by the oars of social influence, He is with us. Our days may be numbered one month at a time, but He is timeless. For as long as we know that He is the Captain, then we can have the peace which is provided by releasing the course of our life’s ship into His hands.   Now that is a tasty dish of the best sort.


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