God Surprises in Peas and Teas

green peas quote

“You know I don’t eat anything green,” insisted my youngest son, pushing his plate of mashed potatoes, meat loaf, and green peas away from him with a single finger. Arms crossed, six-year-old Chris glared at me across the dining room table. His older brother stuck a fork in the meat loaf, and startled, peered more closely at his plate and grinned. He, at least, was on to me.

“You want to try them, trust me,” said Mike, with the slightly imperious air of an older sibling.

His brother shot him a dark look that promised retribution as soon as they were out of sight of the adults, and pulled the plate back, turned so the offending vegetables were as far from him as possible. With a last harrumph, he scooped up some mashed potatoes and gravy—which to his great surprise had begun to melt. April fool!

Both boys are off to college, but they still laugh about the shock of discovering peas made of candy and vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce masquerading as mashed potatoes and gravy.

C. S. Lewis reflected in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, that “a young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading”…God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.” I suspect that more often than I want to admit, I walk through my day like Chris facing dinner, too busy harrumphing about this and that, too careful of what I look at, to let myself be surprised by God in unexpected places.

Like the morning I put a cup of tea on the counter to steep and ran down to throw a load of wash in the dryer. Fifteen minutes later the tea was forgotten, oversteeped and bitter. I resigned myself to facing the morning school traffic without caffeine. But when I went to fish my keys from the bin on the counter, there was a perfectly steaming cup of tea in a travel mug waiting for me. Made by a child who’d never tried to make tea before. I still delight in this small miracle of infused knowledge, seeing in my mind’s eye God standing at the kitchen door, an amused look on His face, holding out a cup of tea, handle first, as I dash by. “You want to try it; trust me.”

For all that I hope to seek and know “God in all things,” for all that I profess God immanent and invincible—the how of God’s revelation in my life continually surprises me with its gentle humor and unassuming immediacy. At every time and in every place, God will do anything to draw close to us.

“What you seek is seeking you.” —Rumi

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Michelle Francl-Donnay
Michelle Francl-Donnay is the mother of two 20-something sons, a professor of chemistry, an adjunct scholar at the Vatican Observatory, and a regular contributor to Philadelphia Archdiocese’s CatholicPhilly.com, where she writes about the joys and struggles of trying to live a contemplative life in the midst of everyday chaos. Michelle blogs at Quantum Theology.


  1. God suprises. me by the little things my Grand Kids CONOR and Dylan do.And the blessing to be around to see them do it.
    Aloha Rich

  2. God surprises us in small ways if we will only be open to receiving those surprises. I appreciate your comment, Michelle, that God asks us to try it and to trust God. Thank you for this reminder which follows on a reminder that I received from God through a friend this morning.


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