This morning I’m marveling at how often “coconut” seems to be cropping up in my day to day activities. First, as you may recall, one of my son’s preschool friends brought a coconut to Show & Tell a couple weeks ago. I have yet to meet her mother, by the way. It’s got to stop raining here so that I can get out of our “drive-by drop-off” car and make myself known outside the car line. After this particular Show & Tell, out of the blue my son started singing the song with the lyrics, “You put the lime in the coconut, you eat it all up. You put the lime in the coconut, oooh Doc-taire.” Although I imagine it’s possible they sang it in class the day of the Coconut Show & Tell, I know I’ve sung it with my son at some point in the last 4 years (or perhaps his Grannie, my Mom, did) as she sang it to me all those years ago. I get a big kick out of that song – it always makes me smile.
Anyway, on Saturday night (Easter Eve as it were) I ventured into the local grocery store to pick up a few items for the fruit salad I was preparing as a side for Easter dinner the following day. One of those items was, of course, coconut, coconut flakes to be exact. Before heading out with all the other latie-lous picking up last minute items at the grocery store, I said to my husband, “Where do you think I’d find coconut sprinkles in the store? His reply, “I’d check the baking aisle – that would be your best bet.” Of course, why didn’t I think of that?!, I say as I head out the door. If you continue to read and I continue to write this blog, and you don’t already know me fairly well, you’ll come to know that while I’m certainly cooking far more than I once did (and I absolutely love to bake), I am not a cook. Please note that although I bake, I did not even know that the coconut flakes are on the baking aisle. As such, I am not what you’d call particularly observant while walking down the aisles at the grocery store. I go to get my usual household staples (milk, strawberries, bananas, eggs, broccoli, Coca-Cola (my Dad is cringing right now and thinking, there’s too much sugar in that, you know – I know, Dad), and whatever meats and such we need for dinner that week. I am not known to linger in the store as my husband (who could easily work as a short order cook if his motorcycle gig doesn’t pan out) does regularly.
My shopping experience is going exceptionally well, I’m finding the few items I need and it doesn’t seem to be any more crowded at the store than any other Saturday night as I head down the baking aisle to find the coconut. I’m even humming the “You put the lime in the coconut…” song as I go along. But alas, no coconut. But he said the coconut would be on this aisle!?! Where is this coconut of which he speaks? I am befuddled. I try another couple aisles that hold promise (ethnic foods, the aisle that has granola and such) but no luck. I even stroll down a few unrelated aisles, hearing my husband in my head saying, just as he’s known to do when we grocery shop together, “Just go up and down each aisle, even if you think you don’t need anything there, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.” Nope. Still no coconut.
Now at this point you may be thinking something along the lines of, “Why doesn’t she just ask someone where to find it?” Good thinking. But rather than asking a store employee like a reasonably sane person would likely do, I think, I know, I’ll call my mother-in-law. Now she’s a cook and she loves coconut. Surely, she must know where a girl can get some coconut around here. Yes, I’ll call my mother-in-law. So I grab my cell phone and wait as the phone rings once, twice, thrice…will it be the answering machine?!?…No! It’s her! It’s her “Hello.” I’m in the grocery store and I can’t find the coconut flakes for my fruit salad (you know, the one that I’ve never made before and found on the internet). Do you know where they’d be? “Well,” she says, “they’ve always been on the baking aisle near the chocolate chips, I think.” Yes, I said, I thought so, too (leaving out the part about her son telling me to check the baking aisle) but I can’t find them. I’ll check again. Sure enough, on the baking aisle right above the chocolate chips (which I’ve bought a million times for my exceptional, if I do say so myself, chocolate chip/walnut cookies) is the bag of coconut flakes I’ve been searching for all along. I exclaim,There they are, right where you said they’d be. I just didn’t look up. This is when being only 5’2″ and looking only at what the store places just at eye level, which is slightly above eye level for a shortie like me, gets you in trouble. Thank you. And I’m on my merry way.
As I’m drifting off to sleep that night, not yet musing about the presence of coconut in my life these past few weeks, I go over how Easter Sunday will unfold beginning with church festival services in the morning with Grannie and my son, to the Easter Bunny Bonanza immediately following at Grannie’s, to preparing deviled eggs and that pesky fruit salad a la coconut before heading to Aunt B’s for dinner. I think to myself, I walked past those coconut flakes three times. I even looked right at the chocolate chips which were just below those coconut flakes. If I’d only looked up, I could have saved myself the phone call, pleasant as it was to chat with my lovely mother-in-law, and found the coconut on my own. If only I’d looked up…
…And then it it hit me, like a lightning bolt, YES! Metaphorically, symbolically, and literally, if I’d only look up, up UP, as in up to God. If God was my default, the one place I looked for answers to all my questions ranging from the mundane where to find the coconut flakes to the existential how to live a life with meaning and purpose, life would be far simpler, pure, and infused with meaning. It was, to channel Samuel Jackson’s Jules in Pulp Fiction (an albeit unlikely source) “a moment of clarity.” My moment of clarity. OMG. Thou hast not forsaken me. My God, my God. You were here all along, if only I’d look up.
Needless to say I drifted off to sleep on Saturday night without a care in the world. Easter Sunday services were alive. Alive with the sound of hymns, of brass and timpani. Alive with the love of church and family and friends. Alive with the peace that comes with knowing, as my Aunt Janet shared with me only days ago and the Trinity (God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in one) has been saying all along to this befuddled shopper, “It is finished.” And it has begun… “You put the lime in the coconut, you eat it all up. You put the lime in the coconut, oooh, Doc-taire.” Amen.