Liz Roberson



The Serving Dish

She was an exquisite dish.

Of all the dishes that she could possibly have been, she was grateful that she was a serving dish. Not only was she a lovely and valuable dish, but she was useful. And to this dish in particular, that was all that really mattered in life. Thousands upon thousands of meals had transferred from kitchen to patron and back again. And they were really very good meals.

Friendships were forged over meals she served. Hands shook across tables where she was placed. Romances sparked…and a few fizzled out. There were celebrations, both in life and in death.

Her service was greatly appreciated and she was used to do so over and over and over again.

Then one day, the Proprietor took her in His hands and running His fingers over the intricate patterns on her face, smiled and placed her out of reach onto a shelf with the other décor in the dining room.

Several boxes began to arrive soon after and nimble hands removed shiny, new dishes from the boxes. They were exquisite dishes. The serving dish looked on as her replacements were handled with awe and gentle respect.

They would be used to serve all of the same people that she’d been serving. The patrons had long since lost their sense of being impressed with her. She was the same dish they’d seen for years, serving them really good food, but all fairly the same.

These new dishes, were…well, NEW and “Weren’t they sooooo exquisite?”  The diners would say to themselves excitedly. Some of them would look at the old dish and remember, recounting to themselves how she had served up so many good meals. But ultimately, the people would move on and forget the dish resting alone upon the shelf.

One day, the Proprietor came into the dining room and considering the shelves at length, took the serving dish down from her dusty place of rest and brought her carefully to a solitary place. This room was a fine room, filled with only the finest things. Where the dining room had always been noisy with laughter and the clanking of glasses, this room was serene…special…set apart.

The Proprietor took His time, taking the dish and giving it a wash, then placed her on the softest and whitest of table linens, next to some of the most exquisite pieces the dish had ever seen. An antique tea cup and pot, fine bone china, polished silver reflecting the artwork on the ceiling, crystal glasses that cast prisms all over the room…and then this, the serving dish.

She no longer felt so exquisite. Looking around at the beauty and usefulness of these other—no doubt more exquisite—pieces, the dish began to feel insignificant, out of place. And though the beauty of the room and table setting pleased the dish, she wondered what on earth she was doing in this place.

The door is swung wide open as a tray leads the Proprietor into the room. He removes the cover and begins pouring wine into the crystal glasses, the prisms on the walls now tinged a faint shade of red. A kettle pours next, filling the teapot with steaming water, steeping dark earthy leaves and filling the room with the scent of spices.

He turns His attention to the bone china, placing a loaf of crispy, flaky bread on one plate and a decadent arrangement of fruit and cheese on another. Fresh butter appears in a dainty dish and finally…He turns to the serving platter. She’s just a simple serving plate to anyone who might glance hurriedly over the spread, but the intricacies of her design would argue otherwise.

Raising the dish, He presents the finest rack of lamb, steamed vegetables, bitter greens and a red currant reduction ever so artfully onto her surface. The plate can scarcely be seen anymore but for this beautiful, aromatic meal. No doubt it will be filling to the one who is lucky enough to partake of it. He places the dish carefully back onto the soft linens and admires His work. It is ready. He lights a taper in the silver candlestick and quietly exits the room.

Not a moment later, a woman enters. She is clothed all in white. Her face beams at the sight of the meal set so beautifully. She takes in every detail from the flickering flame of the candle to the white linens and the sparkle of the red wine in a crystal goblet. She breathes in deeply the scent of spices from the teapot and her mouth begins to water at the sight of the crusty bread. Sitting, she gasps at the tender lamb prepared perfectly. Her heart leaps as she thinks of the One who has thought of every last thing for this beautiful meal. She silently offers up her thanks and again thinks how much she loves Him.

The meal is exquisite. Every morsel sets her taste buds to dancing. She has never eaten a meal so fine—so filling. When she is finished and is sipping the tea and the scent of the spices has wafted away like incense toward the heavens, she sees the dish. It is an exquisite dish.

She rises to leave, reaching to blow out the candle with a breath and sighs contentedly as she exits the room. She will not remember the dish or the crystal, specifically. She will not remember the silver or the bone china. But she will always remember that the table was set just for her, by the One who loves her. She will remember the exquisite meal…as no other meal will ever satisfy like this one had.

The dish had never experienced a meal like this one. Many hurried meals had been enjoyed at her service. They had been loud and light and full of laughter. The meals were quite filling but rarely satisfying in such a way as this one had been for the lady in white. The dish, herself, felt a certain satisfaction at having taken part in such a display.

There had been no rush, no commotion. No boisterous ruckus. This had been soft and sweet. Every bite had been savored as though it were the last. Every sip sat behind lips just a bit longer than usual. The candle burned down, dripping its wax as the scent of the food became only a memory. And with every moment, the lady in white seemed to be giving thanks and thinking fond thoughts of the One who had prepared this meal just for her.

The dish understood now. She had not been retired to a shelf, but reserved for a service that required the willingness and usefulness of a dish such as herself. Remembering her days at rest and how alone and irrelevant she had felt, she realized that it had all been worth it. Necessary, even. And she had been served by this meal as much as she had served her purpose for the lady in white. She knew, now, that quiet and private service was not any less than the loud, public kind. If anything, the honor and satisfaction she felt here far outshined the other.

He entered the room again, looking over the remnants of the meal that He had prepared and the white lady had partaken. He looked pleased as He lifted the serving dish, clearing the scraps from her surface. Taking the dish gently in hand, He took her to the water again…to wash her.
To reveal her beautiful, intricate design, once more.

She was an exquisite dish. He slowly traced His fingers over the initials on the back of the dish. His.


So beautiful. And that last line. Chills.

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