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Curled Radishes

About six years ago, I was speaking at a luncheon held in the civic auditorium of a city in Oklahoma. I settled myself at my place at the head table. I picked up my fork and noticed that two rose-petaled radishes adorned my salad plate. Someone had take the time to pretty up two radishes, just for me. Then I noticed that each salad at the head table had two neatly curled radishes. I turned to the lady sitting to my right. “I’m impressed by the radishes, “ I said. “You’re impressed by what?” she asked. “The radishes,” I said. “Look, each salad plate at our table has curled radishes.” “Yes,” she said, exercising a questioning smile. “They’re pretty.” “They’re more than pretty,” I said. Someone took special care to do these.” “Don’t they all have them?” she asked, gazing out at the tables. I looked and was astonished. Each salad plate was adorned with two curled radishes! “They are curled! That took a lot of time!”

“I’m not on the planning committee, but Gertrude is,” my table mate responded. She turned to get the attention of Gertrude, three chairs down. “Mrs. George wants to ask you something about the radishes, “she whispered. “The what?” Gertrude mouthed “The RA-DI-SHES!” “Is there something wrong with your radishes?” she asked. “No. They are fine. I just thought it was nice to have them all curled.” “Oh, Marietta does those.” “All of them?” I knew the head count in the room and was astonished. “That’s almost eight hundred radishes!” “Yes, but Marietta wants to do it. Would you like to meet her? She’s in the kitchen.”

So Gertrude and I went into the kitchen, and there I met Marietta, the lady of the radishes. “Gertrude tells me you curled all those radishes. They’re lovely. Each salad looks so...festive.” “I don’t mind doing it. It just takes time,” Marietta replied. I didn’t know what more to say so I left.

Later, I spoke, and there was an encouraging response. Afterward, ladies scurried past me with murmured greetings, and a few lingered to speak of God in their lives. When we finished, it was raining heavily so we hurried across the parking lot to the car. Through the rain, I could see a lady, carrying a large polka-dot umbrella that had collapsed on one side waiting by our car. It was Marietta! She was smiling as though we had found her on a sunny day in an especially delightful garden. “I had to see you. I heard your speech. It was good!” she said. “I have to go home now.” I slipped inside the car. Marietta crouched down close to the window and called to me, “Just remember this. You keep telling people about Jesus, and I’ll keep curling the radishes.” The rain and my tears splattered the picture of her face as we started to back out of the driveway. Ah, dear Marietta, I haven’t forgotten. We are to do our jobs in the love of him who does all things well.

Jeanette Clift George, Travel Tips From A Reluctant Traveler, 1987

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