Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Humble Bottle

When I was growing up, all the "special" foods seemed to begin with celery, onions, bell peppers and garlic sauteing in olive oil. It is a smell that can immediately transport me to my childhood. In fact, olives themselves were are a very precious part of my childhood memories.

I remember the huge class jar, it seemed like it could have held three or four gallons to my little eyes, was always kept up high on the top shelf of the cabinet. I supposed at the time that was to keep it away from smaller hands that might be tempted to help themselves if it were located any lower. You see, we weren't allowed to just dip into the jar any time we wanted. No, the olives were reserved for special occasions or special dishes. They were doled out to children, who were thought to not actually appreciate their flavor and mystique, only on rare occasions.

Because of my childhood, I consider olives and olive oil very special. In the cooking sense, olive oil -- and especially extra-virgin olive oil, is a tastier, and costlier form of oil than say vegetable oil or canola oil. But take a walk down your average mega-mart and find the oil aisle. What will you see?

You will see rows of bottles of different types of vegetable oils: corn oil, canola oil, blended oils, and they all seem to be in faux cut glass bottles. All look so similar, plastic, "cut-glass" bottles. By contrast, the extra-virgin olive oil, the tastiest and most expensive oil sold at our mega-mart, was in a plain, simple bottle. So the plain stuff, used mostly for frying or to be hidden in recipes like cakes and muffins, was in the pretend, fancy looking bottle: not really cut-glass, not really even glass; just molded plastic to look like cut-glass. The expensive, tasty oil, which could be spread on fine Italian bread in place of butter, or drizzled over fine salad greens, was in the plain simple bottle.

It took awhile for the lesson of the olive oil bottle to sink into my brain. (Being viscous, I guess it took longer for the oil to drip in there.)

It is said of our Lord that He is "meek and lowly"(Matthew 11:29). It is said of the Holy Spirit that when He would come, "He shall not speak of Himself;" (John 16:13). The Love of God discussed in 1 Corinthians 13 is said that it vaunts not itself, and seeks not it's own.

Our God is a god of humility. Our Lord is the One who put His garments aside, gird Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples. Our Lord is the One who said, "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."

Our Lord is the Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings and yet He walked upon this earth in such tenderness and humility that none were afraid to call out to Him, nor to throng Him in hopes of sight or speech or a cure.

In our day, let us watch and not be weary that we are not like the vegetable oil, taunting ourselves as more than we are, proud that we are something we are not -- plastic pretending to be cut-glass. Let us walk to be like the olive oil, simple and humble, but providing taste and life and true value to all who will look beyond the bottle to the taste of that One True Vine held within.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman."
John 15:1

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