While visiting the SMU campus at Taos, I was checking out all the details about the suitability of using it as a retreat setting for Evolve, our spiritual workshop. So, first how is the food??? The first day I was in the dining hall was breakfast.
The first face I saw was, Lillian, the Head Chef peeking out from behind the serving counter. I asked Lillian if I could interview her and ask her some questions about how she cooked and kept all the students fed and happy. She hesitated as I could tell she was very shy and maybe felt intimidated by me-maybe she was thinking I was there to judge her and how well she carried out her job….?
I suggested we talk the next day—so I would give her some time to be comfortable with what she would say to me. There was something about Lillian….. I had this “knowing’ inside that I should talk with her but didn’t know quite why. I could find out all the details I needed from being there and tasting the food and experiencing how smoothly the place ran. But something inside of me told me to keep the interview and talk to her in a more personal setting. I didn’t know why… until later after the interview.
The next Moring, I saw that small little face again looking up at me as I decided what to have for breakfast. Very quietly, she asked me how I liked my eggs and told me she would cook something special for me. She brought back a plate with two over easy eggs and sitting next to them in all their glory was a stack of chocolate pancakes…She brought me a small pitcher of hot maple syrup and melted butter and told me she would come back and talk after I had finished my breakfast. Indeed she appeared about fifteen minutes later right on time to do the interview. I could tell she was very nervous but also I felt she was well…maybe… wanting to do the interview too.
As it turns out, she is a very well -known and accomplished chef in Taos having worked at some of the best restaurants, but had chosen to come to the SMU campus because she liked the laid back environment and the happiness evident in the people working in this enchanted forest of a place. As I asked her some prepared- in- advance questions, she began to open up and I saw the passion she has for her work in her eyes. As we went through the interview, I could see her warming up and getting more confident about talking on a video with me. She seemed to flourish in the safe environment of my intentions. At the end of the video, she reached over unexpectedly and hugged me holding on a little longer than the normal hug. She pulled back and looked me in the eyes and told me how much she appreciated being given the time and recognition for an interview.
Then, I got it. I realized I had “known” from the time our eyes met across the serving counter, that she was special and that she, maybe, needed some recognition. I had interviewed her partly for my own needs but mainly because I knew it was a chance to allow someone to open up and see themselves in a higher light. Sometimes I forget that I know to do these things, that it is what I am supposed to be doing in this world. She had changed a little, become more confident and accepting of herself….just because I had taken the time to get to know her.
This “knowing”, that small voice within me nudging me to take the time to get to know someone on a deeper lever, was giving me the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Divine Intelligence in someone else and experiencing the divine for myself. I have been told it is a gift I have –this “knowing”, of how to bring out the highest self in others. For me, taking the time to acknowledge the best in others is always rewarded….this time with the best chocolate pancakes I have ever put in my mouth…..
Lillian, the Head Chef at Taos SMU Campus