The True Meaning of Marinate
To marinate is to soak in (as in meat) or leave time for reflection. It’s basically a passive, slow process but so worth it in the end, whether you are cooking or looking for insight.
I have always loved the word marinate, and as I thought about what recipe to share this week, I found myself preparing zesty pork chops. As I set the immersed cutlets into the fridge this story came to mind.
It happened back when I was an elementary special education teacher. The staff was gathered for a monthly staff meeting. Towards the end, our principal issued a challenge to each one of us. We were to interact with a child we didn’t know in the upcoming month in an effort to make school meaningful for every child.
That would be easy for me. I saw lots of kids throughout the day, but I didn’t necessarily interact with many of them. As a special educator, I had a small room that hosted a handful of regulars. But I did have an opportunity to be out in the classrooms on occasion, and I had lunch recess duty every single day.
The days went by and I had forgotten about our principal’s invitation to make meaningful contact with an unknown child. When it finally dawned on me one day, the fifth graders were passing me in the hallway, single file.
Of course, I picked the toughest nut to crack.
This little guy was pretty quiet, but he was a handful. He was all tough exterior, and rumor had it that his home life was rough if not completely dysfunctional. He seemed to embody the word ‘ruffian’ which made him a solid target for my experiment in student-teacher connection.
“Hello, Isaac!” I said cheerfully in passing.
He glared at me like I had two heads. Luckily, I was used to student unresponsiveness and was undeterred.
The next day I caught him alone in the hallway walking to class before school started.
“Good morning, Isaac!” I looked him in the eye and cheerfully greeted him again.
“Good morning, Mrs. Gauntner,” he said with complete mockery and distain. You know, the kind of tone you reserve for siblings when you are imitating them and trying to make them mad. I couldn’t believe it. This was definitely not going well.
I could have stopped my silly greetings. At no point was a little word or two and a look in the eye going to change this tough fifth grader with more problems than Donald Trump at a Univision convention. But for some reason, I had now made it my mission to seek him out every day and say something that acknowledged his presence.
The mockery continued. I ignored it every time and kept peppering him with greetings and acknowledgements.
Then one day, out of the blue, the disdainful tone disappeared. He just said ‘hi’ back. There was no eye contact or cheery demeanor, but it was civil.
Victory was mine!
I can’t say my efforts resulted in a meaningful connection, but it sure made me feel good inside to know that I had wiggled my way past being ignored into being mocked and then on to civility. It was evolution at its finest.
Once Isaac and I had established a mutual understanding, we simply continued our daily nods and greetings with quiet expectation.
But one day out on the playground, my passive, slow process of making a connection paid off far more than I could have anticipated.
Isaac had found some pills somewhere and was walking around with them in his coat pocket. He was completely unsure of what to do with them, but knew for a fact they were not to be in his possession. Sheepishly, he hung out beside me at recess. I chatted with him, curious why he wasn’t moving along. I know now that he was building the courage to tell me about the pills in his pocket. He trusted me enough to help him out of this situation. I thanked him for telling me, and we took care of the problem.
I’ll never forget that little lesson.
There are times when constant effort, patience, and time, like a fine marinade, can soften even the toughest cut of meat.
Peace & Light,
A delicious and easy summer twist!
FIND RECIPE HERE!
How do you decide when something is worth continuing or letting it go?