DON’T TELL ME
Please don’t tell me I should hug,
Don’t tell me I should care.
Don’t tell me just how grand I’d feel
If I just learned to share.
Don’t say, “It’s all right to cry,”
“Be kind,” “Be fair,” “Be true.”
Just let me see YOU do it,
Then I just might do it too.
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends, 40th Anniversary Edition
This playful but poignant poem of Silverstein’s reminds me that The Kitchen is that sort of place where what I say and what I do is tested. The Kitchen, for most of us in recent generations, has become the gathering place for families and friends. Our kitchen and adjoining eating area are “life-central” for us in our home. In our kitchen, especially with family but certainly with all who gather in that space with us, what we say (our convictions, ethical values, belief systems, affirmations and commitments) are easily tested. In this close, intimate space of The Kitchen, do we act in accord with our convictions? Can one see our ethical values in the interchanges between us? Have our beliefs been for public show or do they show up in relationships in The Kitchen? Do you see me follow my affirmations in that space, support my commitments there, or do they fall away? Or do we betray some or all of these things?
For most of us, it’s some of both, and if we can even own that reality, The Kitchen becomes a great laboratory of human development. What is not questionable is that in the intimate space of The Kitchen what we say and how that squares with what we do becomes apparent.
Whether we think of it this way or not, our kitchens become like little churches, and if we are willing to see it, our churches are The Kitchen. People gather into somewhat intimate space and make statements of faith, ethics, and commitment. But we also act our human relations out in our churches, in The Kitchen. If I come into church affirming the dignity and worth of every human being but I want to be treated as “more special” than others, I betray myself. If I stand up in The Kitchen on Sunday morning and affirm that we are building Beloved Community, but then corner up with a few to complain about another member of the community, I betray myself and any notion of the Beloved Community. The Kitchen invites, provides and teaches. Saying and doing belong together.
Principles. Doctrines. Statements of Faith. Fine. Just let me see you do it, then I just might do it, too.