All of us remember Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music singing gleefully about her favorite things.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.
We all have favorite things: favorite books, cups, clothes, places, even people. Over the course of my life, I have collected many favorite things: a favorite journal, favorite pens, favorite Bible verses and, of course, favorite songs and movies. Some of my kids accuse me that their sibling is one of my favorites. Alas, no. But, some of the things that have become my favorite things were, in fact, surprises. Various sounds and smells have made their way into my soul and have given me solace, peace and serenity.
My first real job was at the Manor McDonald’s in 1976. I worked in the evenings after school and my dad would pick me up. Those were the times if there was extra food you could take it home. It was a nice time. I worked there until I graduated the following spring, and was rehired in January 1979 when I worked the early morning shift. I loved working at McDonald’s. I loved the people like Lina who I worked with, I loved the customers like Hans who came and hung out with his friends all morning, tossing me a dime each time he asked for a coffee refill. I’d go home after work smelling of burgers and fries.
There is something in that smell of McDonald’s french fries that brings me comfort. I currently work across the street from a McDonald’s and when I am having an unusually stressful day, the wafts of the scent of the french fries that I smell when I walk over to the main office bring me comfort, remind me of my time working in McDonald’s which I really enjoyed and soothe my soul. Really, just the smell of the french fries? Yes, isn’t that crazy? I got another crazy one for you.
In 1971, my family moved from my beloved Santa Rosa to the dismal, foggy Daly City. I was so saddened by the move that I vowed never to like it. My bedroom window was on street side. Once a week I would be awakened by the noisy garbage truck. Over the years, that noisy garbage truck became a comfort sound to me. Living in the midst of a chaotic household, it gave me some strange sense of stability, of continuity, of regularity, if you will. Every Wednesday morning, the garbage truck would come, and that continuity, that regularity became a comfort and peace for me. Weird, huh?
Fast forward to 1996. My father’s boss gave my dad a trip for two to Rome. My father didn’t want to go, but there was no way my mother was not going to go. I offered to go to Rome with her, me and my three-month old daughter, Evangelina. So in March, 1996, off we go to Rome. Sounds good, but I did leave 5 of my kids back home with their dad. The littlest one not even two. I tried not to worry about them. During the day, it was OK because I knew they were asleep at home; at night, however, it was hard, and I couldn’t sleep well not knowing if they were being taken care of.
Toward the end of my trip, one night when I couldn’t sleep, I prayed that they’d be OK. Soon, I heard it. I heard the sound of the garbage truck, just like the one in Daly City 25 years before. And I knew God had heard my prayers and came through that sound of the garbage truck to comfort my worried mother heart. So even now when I hear the sound of the garbage trucks early in the morning, I remember.
It amazes me what devices the Lord uses to reach our hearts. For me the smell of McDonald’s french fries and the sound of the garbage truck might not be “raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens”, but they are few of my favorite things.