What is the sound of a cookie to you?
The squish of pressing a Hershey’s Kiss into the steaming soft top of a cookie fresh out of the oven sounds perfect, according to thirteen-tear-old Gillian. I love the sound, she exclaimed, as she bent her ear toward her hand that pressed each kiss. The squish!
Then she declared for a second time: Cookies don’t have to look perfect, they just have to taste perfect.
Our Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies did taste perfect! That Gillian’s parents and sister pilfered a cookie each time they passed the kitchen table where the cookies cooled was testimony. The cookies tasted perfect despite their too-browned ragged edge. Despite the composition of the batter we had concocted.
Gillian and I had made an exquisite creamy batter of butter, eggs, and sugar. Then..
As I poured vanilla into a measuring tablespoon, I realized I had used the tablespoon to measure the baking soda, baking powder, and salt instead of using teaspoon measurements the recipe required.
That’s when Gillian first pronounced: Cookies don’t have to look perfect – they just have to taste perfect.
She continued, I say: let’s just add more butter, and eggs, and sugar, and peanut butter, and flour to balance the extra stuff you put in. Let’s make a double batch, or triple.
She quickly computed the extra cups of ingredients needed for a double batch, the extra part-teaspoons and part-tablespoons, too. You add and I’ll keep mixing, she ordered.
So, I added and she remixed the “close-enough” proportions of ingredients.
Voila… there soon emerged from the heated oven five dozen perfect-tasting cookies. The imperfectly organized ingredients, plus our efforts, plus the heat of the oven had enabled our batter to answer the call to become perfect-tasting cookies.
Despite the imperfect composition of the batter we had concocted, despite the ragged edges of some… the cookies tasted perfect!
Weeks later, on the heels of the 2016 presidential election, I keep thinking about the wisdom of Gillian’s statement: Cookies don’t have to look perfect – they just have to taste perfect.
I’ve come to the conclusion that no individual cookie batter ingredient looks or tastes “perfect” on its own. The thought of the tastes and textures of flour, butter, salt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and even sugar and peanut butter in the mouth is dis-tasteful. But, through some mysterious process of blending and baking, those individual ingredients accept the challenge to become something new, to become something the recipe of “cookie” calls them to be… something with a new name and taste. Peanut Butter Blossom cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Delight cookies, Chocolate Chip cookies – and hundreds of other named cookies are the result. New… in organization and appearance, they present a different look. As cookies they present perfect taste to many, good-enough taste to others, and to some, objectionable flavor because the taste buds of each of us differ.
The presidential election of 2016 offered Americans an option between what looked and sounded to be two candidates of imperfectly organized ingredients, neither satisfying the taste of citizens completely. One candidate won the election. He now is called to blend all of the ingredients of himself into a batter that will rise to become something new. A statesman, a free-world leader, the President of these United States of America… a new cookie!
Metaphorically, the heat of the oven of the United States Presidential office can be seen as far greater than the heat in the oven of a typical kitchen. Consequently, there may be frequent baking mishaps as the newly elected citizen endeavors to become a new cookie. Let us recognize that fact. Let us acknowledge his positive efforts.
Then, let us pray there are expert bakers on the Presidential staff. Let us pray they have the foresight and quickness of thought of Gillian, the ability to identify what is needed to reform a batter of ingredients into a composition eager and capable to rise to the call of becoming a new Presidential Cookie. Let us pray for enough skill in the presidential kitchen to compute, to add, and to mix the extra cups, part-teaspoons and part-tablespoons of ingredients needed.
And, let us pray that humility, reason, compassion, and wisdom become the central composition of the new Presidential Cookie.
In proportions needing not to look perfect… but arranged to listen to each other. And, arranged so well that when we ordinary citizens bend our ear close to listen to the conversation and outcomes of conversation we hear a satisfying squish – most of the time – as Gillian did.
May we all do what we can to help the sound and taste of the new Cookie emerge close-enough to perfect…to govern judiciously.