The Parable of the Peas
Editor’s note: Just as a new recipe can change our opinion on an ingredient, missioner-in-Formation Susan Sarkissian shares how her community at Casa San Salvador has inspired her to change her perspective through their witness to adaptability and service.
Peas were a staple on the dinner table. My mother loved them. There it would sit, that giant bowl of pale, sickly green, semi-deflated balls of apparent nutritious goodness. My mom would scoop a generous portion and instruct me to “eat every bite.” I wanted to be obedient, so I took up a spoonful and slowly dropped it into the well of my mouth. I held them there for a long while, fearing what I knew was to come. Then I bit down and cringed as that mass became like slimy, wet paper. I tried to swallow quickly without gagging, but it was so hard. My only salvation was a tall glass of water, which I promptly swished in my mouth. The flavor didn’t bother me because they didn’t taste like anything. It was that nasty texture I just couldn’t stand.
Recently, a housemate made a big pot of vegetarian chili. I dove in and loved the smells, the flavors, and the texture until I noticed it contained peas. I stared down at the bowl for a few moments. I remember my commitment to mission service and the desire to grow with a spirit of cooperation and openness to new experiences. And the cook was seated right next to me! I resisted the temptation to pick out the peas. I reasoned that I had already eaten a little. So I put that spoon in my mouth. It was delicious, and texture was not an issue. I licked my bowl clean!
That same evening, my housemates and I were discussing an assigned reading about living the Franciscan charism in a modern world. I read this work earlier in the summer and shared that I did not like the book. It was like the peas—a brief encounter formed a lasting impression. I retired for the evening but awoke in the wee hours feeling awful about the comments I made. It was 2 a.m., but I picked up that book and read. The words coming off the page somehow carried new meaning for me. Tears of joy ran down my cheek as I felt a change in my heart. I wondered what was so different between this summer and now. I realized it was the grace of coming to FMS formation.
At the Casa, I live with seven other men and women who share a vision of friendship, unity, and service to others. I have witnessed numerous acts of charity, a willingness to adapt or change, and even sacrifice of personal space or time for another. Love is the guiding force, and with that spirit, I find a growing desire to experience life through new eyes. Perhaps I will stop hating those peas and learn to love them!
Question for reflection: What are you called to see with new eyes?