While writing another post, I reminded myself of a near-miss I had several years ago. With just the phrase “a bowl of soup” I remembered an opportunity that almost passed me by because I wasn’t paying attention.

I was super focused on myself.

I had just moved into my new townhouse, I was preparing for a big activity at my church, and it was my birthday weekend. I had scheduled a piano tuner to come to my house while I cooked lots of food for the big church activity and had so much to do.

The piano tuner arrived. He took forever to settle in on the piano bench. It seemed like a half an hour before he even had the lid of the piano open. He wanted to talk and talk. Then, he needed a bathroom break. A stranger in my new bathroom?! Then, slowly he got back to the piano. Finally, I could get back to my cooking.

But the chatting continued. I heard about his home, his workshop, a piano that just got shipped in from the west coast for repairs, the neighbor kids. I just needed him to hurry and finish. I did that not-so-nice listening of “oh, that’s nice” and “good for you.” He commented a lot on how good the soup smelled and all I could think was how I didn’t have time to feed him.

I was so self-centered that I almost missed the “I miss my wife’s cooking so much.” It took two seconds too long for me to realize he was tearing up.

Ugh.

All he wanted was a bowl of soup and all I wanted was to rush him away. I hadn’t paid near enough attention to the story about the war, when he met the prophet of the church, or when his wife passed away.

I invited him to stay for a bowl of soup but he had another appointment to get to so I packed some to go.

Usually, when you do something nice for someone you feel good. But this time, I had a lesson to learn.

I can be a better listener. I can be a better host. I can be a better person.

Now, every time I make that soup I never keep the whole batch. I make sure to share a bowl.

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