“Did you just say I can’t feed them chicken?” she asked her long time friend
“That’s right, Zona. You can’t feed them chicken.”
“What am I going to do? I have cooked all this chicken!”
“You’ll think of something. It’ll be okay,” Joe walked out of the kitchen. He always arrived early. He liked to visit with his old friends, Newt and Zona, as much as possible.
Alone in the kitchen, Zona thought frantically, “What shall I cook? I know! I have a ham in the pantry!”
She had been planning for a week. The menu was in place, the table set, the house sparkling clean! She was proud of her home and loved to have friends over. Entertaining was her specialty!
“It will be okay. It will be alright,” Zona repeated to herself while placing the ham in the oven. “I don’t understand why they can’t eat chicken, but it will be alright.”
Joe wandered back into the kitchen.
Seeing the harried look on her face, he asked, “What’s the matter, Zona?” “Oh, it’s okay. I just hope that they like ham,” she replied with a tone that belied her frazzled state. Her party was not going as planned. Her emotions on edge, she sighed loudly and began slicing potatoes.
“Ham?” Joe questioned. “You can’t feed them ham!”
“That’s it!" she exploded. "I’ve had it! Why in the world can’t they eat ham? What is wrong with ham? I don’t even know what is wrong with chicken, but what in heaven’s name is wrong with ham? I don’t know what to do to please them!”
Chuckling, Joe answered, “Zona, they are Jesuit priests. They don’t eat meat on Fridays.” Then he remembered, “They can eat fish though.”
“Fish!? The only fish I have in the house is a can of tuna! I can’t feed them tuna,” she cried. “I’ve worked so hard to make this nice! Now I have to offer tuna?”
“It will be alright,” Joe said trying to calm her down. “They won’t mind.”
Fuming inside, Zona resigned herself to the fact that her dinner party was going to be a flop. She opened her can of tuna and began to add seasoning.
Finally, the knock came on the door. Father Guay and Father Nash arrived with loud greetings and friendly smiles. As Americans living in 1960's Baghdad and teaching at the University of Baghdad, they welcomed every occasion to visit with their fellow Americans. They rarely refused an invitation.
Newt and Zona met them at the door, inviting them into their home. Joining the other guests, the priests mingled. Conversation was lively. Everyone was enjoying the evening. So far.
Compliments poured out of her friends as they entered the dining room and saw the beautifully set table.
Bemused expressions then appeared on their faces. So many dishes on the table ! Potatoes, green beans, asparagus, some other vegetables. Everything smelled wonderful. However, she knew they were wondering, “Why did she prepare so much? Why chicken AND ham? Is that tuna?”
Seeing their expressions, Zona began to laugh out loud. This was as funny as an “I Love Lucy” episode! She had to explain to her guests why there was such an amazing amount of food set before them!
Sharing the sequence of events in the kitchen leading up to the overflowing dinner table, she drew them into the story. They began to laugh with her. Father Guay and Father Nash, tickled by her dilemma, struggled to stop long enough to speak, “Zona! Really, you didn’t have to do this. We abstained from meat yesterday so we could come to your party tonight and enjoy your wonderful cooking!”
Boisterous laughter filled the room as everyone realized the absurdity of the situation. Zona relaxed as she realized their company and friendship was more important to her than being their perfect hostess.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Luke 10: 41-42 (NIV)
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