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Every mother harbors a mystery of some sort. Many handed down from one generation to the next forming a bond so strong no man can penetrate. I came to realize this at an early age, which has stood me in good standing throughout life. Namely, don't mess with female secrets.

It all started at a church fellowship supper, which is usually the centerpoint of any good church. Attend just one church fellowship supper and you learn everything that needs to be known about that church. These functions, as you might guess, are supervised entirely by the women of the church.

My mother's mystery had roots at a church fellowship supper. Everyone was expected to bring their signature dish.

For example, everyone knew Sister Grace's signature dish was her sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Nobody in her right mind would dare bring a similar dish. Also, Sister Sylvia always brought the mashed potatoes with gravy, which everybody agreed would be a . . .

Every mother harbors a mystery of some sort. Many handed down from one generation to the next forming a bond so strong no man can penetrate. I came to realize this at an early age, which has stood me in good standing throughout life. Namely, don't mess with female secrets.

It all started at a church fellowship supper, which is usually the centerpoint of any good church. Attend just one church fellowship supper and you learn everything that needs to be known about that church. These functions, as you might guess, are supervised entirely by the women of the church.

My mother's mystery had roots at a church fellowship supper. Everyone was expected to bring their signature dish.

For example, everyone knew Sister Grace's signature dish was her sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Nobody in her right mind would dare bring a similar dish. Also, Sister Sylvia always brought the mashed potatoes with gravy, which everybody agreed would be a featured plat du jour at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Sister Eloise's contribution was apple pie to die for, and the list went on and on.

Of course, being new to the church we did not understand this culinary dynamic. So, when we were invited to the first church fellowship supper the head lady asked my mother what dish she would bring. Not really having such a dish, my mother casually mentioned meatloaf, which seemed to settle the issue.

For some reason the church fellowship supper slipped our mind and the evening before my mother suddenly remembered. "Oh, my," she exclaimed, "I forgot to make the meatloaf."

Being a practical-minded person, she simply went to one of her favorite markets, purchased a freshly made meatloaf and brought it home and "doctored it up," as she said. That settled, she thought no more about it.

The next day at the church fellowship supper, we arrived bearing our store- bought meatloaf. How were we to know this was anathema at the church? We were just delighted to be with the rest of the church people enjoying the delicacies. I will never forget the great spread we encountered. So much food, so little stomach.

Fifteen minutes into the eating portion of the fellowship supper, people began complementing my mother on the meatloaf. "This is," one lady proclaimed, "one of the best meatloaves I have ever tasted." Then she said something that sent my mother into a panic. "You just must give me the recipe for this delicious meatloaf of yours. I've never had anything like it before."

Right about here an awful thought dawned on my mother. From bits of conversation heard here and there, she realized each dish was a special dish and if anybody knew hers was store-bought, she would be in serious trouble.

All the ladies took great pride in their special dishes at the church fellowship supper and would not be caught dead with a dish from the store. So, my mother faced a special dilemma. On the one hand, she couldn't lie and take credit for something she didn't do, but on the other hand, she was backed into a serious corner.

I, being young at the time, did not understand all that was going on, but I could tell my mother was in a lot of distress. Then, like the sun rising in the morning, her face lit up and a big smile crawled across her face.

"Ladies," she giggled with delight, "I could never give away the family secret recipe."

As silly as this seemed to me then and now, all the ladies of the church nodded knowingly and that was the end of it. Every woman knows every other woman, especially mothers, have secrets they cannot divulge. This goes double for secret recipes from the kitchen. They understood certain confidences are not to be breached.

This spawned a new dilemma for my mother. She was now expected at every church fellowship supper to bring her famous meatloaf. Once, I remember, she tried to make a meatloaf but it didn't turn out like her "famous" meatloaf and she feared taking such a risk with such a discriminating group as the ladies of the church. For the next 20 years, she was forced to purchase her famous meatloaf from the market in high hopes that no lady from the church would discover her secret recipe for her meatloaf.

Several times during that 20-year time my mother volunteered to bring some other dish but none of the ladies would hear of it. One lady expressed the obvious opinion of the entire church when she said, "Our church fellowship suppers would not be the same without your homemade meatloaf." Nothing more needed said.

My mother smiled, hiding the fear lurking in her heart that one day her meatloaf recipe would be found out.

Fortunately, nobody ever found out my mother's recipe for her amazing meatloaf. Although she moved and no longer attends that church, she once in a while delights a family reunion with her famous meatloaf.

Mysteries are all around us every day. Even the Bible is full of mysteries. Some mysteries we will never discover and only eternity will reveal them.

Some, however, God graciously reveals to us now. One for example is; "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27 KJV.)

Mystery of mysteries is that God delights to reside in people like you and me.

Copyright, Rev. James L. Snyder
Used With Permission
For reprint permission, contact the auther through his site at:
http://www.realezsites.com/bus/godspenman

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