I was a second grader that year, and joined “Brownies” which, at the time, was a precursor to Girl Scouts.
There were crafts and projects that year, cookies and Hawaiian punch, and the inevitable camping trips. I recall dreading those trips, because of my inclination to sleep walk or fall out of bed without even waking up. So embarrassing!
One week that spring, near Easter, our Brownie troop was divided up and sent to a few of the girls’ homes to learn to bake meringues. I ended up at Rachel’s house. Not knowing Rachel too well, I was not certain what to expect.
Her mother welcomed us into her kitchen with a pretty smile and quiet hello. She had several containers of brown eggs on the counter by her old white Kitchen Aid mixer. After carefully explaining how meringues were made primarily of egg whites, she tasked us with cracking the eggs gently but firmly against the bowl before separating the white and yolk. We had many eggs to crack.
Most of us fumbled, and eggs with shells and yolks and whites ended up in the bowls. Lots of mistakes and bunches of lost eggs. I was nervous.
“Not to worry…Not to worry…” Rachel’s mom soothed. “This is how you girls can practice and learn.”
She opened the refrigerator.
“Look, girls. Look how many eggs I bought just for today. Practice is so important. Mistakes are an important part of learning.”
My eyes widened. There must have been ten egg cartons in their spacious fridge.
I did not have a word for it then, as a little girl, but something about Rachel’s mother made my stomach relax. She checked our work and patted our shoulders, and encouraged each girl along. This was not about her kitchen or her eggs. Simply a humble woman teaching young girls a life skill with gentleness and grace.
Nearly forty years have passed, and I have cracked many an egg and made a few meringues along the way. But what I remember most about that afternoon in Rachel’s kitchen is the magnificence of patience and humility.