The Red Lettuce Angel

Tasked with feeding more than 50 people, she'd forgotten the salad. What to do now?

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- Posted on Aug 26, 2014

An artist's rendering of a winged angel tossing a salad with red lettuce

What was I thinking? On top of my night rotation as a nurse, I’d volunteered to manage First Lutheran Church’s Thursday night Share a Meal program.

It was a worthy cause–we’d provide a balanced meal to more than 50 people. And I was just filling in for a friend this one week. But I was already overwhelmed by my work schedule, and didn’t completely trust myself not to mess up.

“Don’t worry,” I’d told my friend. “You can count on me.” At least I hoped so.

In the days that followed, my calendar became a balancing act. I hadn’t factored in the amount of time spent collaborating with the other volunteers in a whirlwind of preparations.

We had to figure out the menu, find affordable ingredients for the casseroles, coordinate our shopping lists, cook, and make sure we had enough hands on deck Thursday night to serve.

It was a lot to organize, but driving over to the church Thursday afternoon, still groggy from a long shift at the hospital, I was sure I’d remembered everything on my to-do list.

All the volunteers showed up on time, and after praying together we settled into an assembly line in the basement kitchen, fixing casseroles like a well-oiled machine. Looks like we pulled it off, I thought as we loaded the last of them into the oven.

Wait a minute, I thought, just casseroles? Something’s missing. The salad!

I’d decided it would be more efficient for me to just take care of that myself, instead of involving the rest of the group. I looked at the wall clock. 4:30 p.m. Dinner was set for 6:00! Not nearly enough time to add another item to our menu. So much for a balanced meal.... It looked like my friend couldn’t count on me after all.

“Hey, Vicki!” One of the volunteers poked her head into the kitchen. “There’s a lady in the church parking lot asking to see you.”

What now? I hurried upstairs and out the door. A woman waved at me from beside her car. I jogged over.

“You’re in charge today?” she asked cheerfully. She opened her car door to reveal several loads of crisp, fresh red lettuce. “I picked it from my garden this morning,” she said. “It’s all washed and ready to go. Can you use some extra salad?”

I couldn’t believe it. “Yes, we can! Thank you!” It took a few of us to bring it all into the kitchen. I went into high gear chopping up head after head and concocting a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Everything came together by dinnertime. Each one of our guests left with a full stomach, and several even stopped to comment on the most delicious salad they’d ever had.

The woman with the red lettuce had saved the day, but no one knew who she was, and I never came across her again. Not in town or at church. All I can figure is, God had sent an angel with just what we’d needed. I could always count on him, and that’s what counted most of all.

 

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