In the morning, I wake early before the sun is up. The night was short and still weighs heavy on my body. I stretch and move, trying to revive my muscles and waken my spine. Like an insect trapped in a web, I struggle to escape my slumber.
In the kitchen I heat some ghee in my favorite cast iron pan. I crack two eggs onto the invisible shimmering barrier and they sizzle sharply at the introduction.
Pan temperature is critical:
Just hot enough so that the eggs will stay suspended in the ghee but still cook fast enough to not spread out and lose their shape.
Not so hot that their surface becomes hard and seared before the inside can cook through.
Cooking time is precise:
Too long and the yolk becomes hard.
Too short and the edges don’t get crispy.
In these early hours my thoughts wander to the events of the upcoming day and I can get anxious about what it holds for me. When this happens I have to remind myself to be patient or I will flip the eggs too soon and break their delicate yolks.
When they are ready, I transfer them to my plate. I sprinkle them with coarse grey salt and cracked peppercorns. Sometimes I add garlic powder and goat cheese. Sometimes it’s Sriracha and Parmesan. But most often salt and pepper is all the flavor that they need.
I sit at the table and eat my eggs with the one sterling silver fork that we own. I use it because I like the way it feels in my hand and how it rings as it scrapes the plate and rests on the table. I chew slowly, breathing consciously in order to savor my eggs deeply before moving on with the rest of my day. When I’m done, I rinse my plate and make some coffee.
Yesterday my sons told me that my oldest had made some eggs that were “almost” as good as mine. He beamed with pride as I jokingly scoffed and voiced my serious skepticism. When I suggest that maybe he should handle Saturday morning breakfast this week I see his eyes light with the possibilities.
I’m proud of him in this moment but I’m also terrified at the insight that it brings. While they laugh and talk about the extravagant possibilities I realize just how closely they watch what I do. They deeply desire to be like me and my every action and mannerism is captured and digested by their ravenous little hearts.
I’ll never fully know what parts of me will become a permanent component of them. Or how some eclectic mix of me and my wife can mingle together with transient life and temporary relationships and be shaken down in the laboratory of their individual little hearts to produce two utterly unique and precious souls.
I’ll also never know how many of my mistakes will become their biggest obstacles.
I know that I must be patient and precise in my care of them so that I do not break the delicate yolk of their little spirits. I know that I must be careful with how and what I season them with so that their distinct flavor can still come through. I know that I cannot avoid wounding them and failing them and that I can’t do anything to fix that besides asking their forgiveness time and time again.
And I know that in the end they will be precisely who they are meant to be because in spite of all the loving and teaching and wounding and healing that goes on, it is not ultimately up to me to truly shape them into who they are destined to be.
This time that I have with them is just a short morning in the day that is their life. Just a brief moment of time where I get to help prepare them for the rest of life and then send them out into their destiny.
And so I’ll rise extra early and do what I can to prepare.
I’ll be patient while we walk out the process of growing up.
And I’ll take joy in the moment when they step forward into that life, knowing that every laugh and hurt and mistake and perfect moment were all exactly what needed to happen in order for them to become exactly who God designed them to be.