The chili cook-off had a great moment of suspense. While the chefs knew their dishes, they had no idea how we were going to vote! Could an Aussie beat two Americans at their own game? Would the son come back after two consecutive defeats and top the father? Would Pops continue to stand at the head of the class? Nobody knew.
As I walk around taking an informal poll, it was interesting to see that the chefs might not know but anyone willing to listen would! Dish “c” was the clear choice! Second place was up for grabs, however vocally everyone was going for the 3rd option. When the announcement was made, while the results were closer than one anticipated, the outcome was consistent with the crowd’s voice. Pops had triumphed, again.
I watched he face, anticipating that he was going to be the winner. The emotions that passed were of thankfulness, surprise, relief, and a warning sign that it was time to strut! I could imagine the conversation in his head. “I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.” (Psalm 13.6) What everyone saw was a mature man in his late seventies grow a little bit taller and step forward with a spring in his step. He shared a smile that would not leave and is still with me.
It was good to see someone win that deserved the win and wanted it as well. The losers were gracious in their praise, though I never heard anyone admit that he had the better dish! I am left with the memories of the smile and the sense of satisfaction. He had put himself on the line and had been rewarded. He had made himself vulnerable. With the winner’s t-shirt on, everything made sense.
I often forget that living engaged is a lot like winning. The process includes putting one’s heart and sweat into it. Others may seem to be winning but the judgment is not final. Compassion and community are great ingredients. With our touch, we have a sure winner.