Gravy is a “deal breaker” at Thanksgiving for me. Season your turkey and put it in the oven and normally it turns out great. I know only one disaster and that was not the cook’s fault. Dressing gets perfected over the years and I love a rice dressing. Pie goes to the pie experts. But gravy is just a challenge to get ratio of juices, flour, water, salt etc. balanced right and served hot – not store bought. Yes, my pride is at stake! So where does gravy come from?
One of the favorite questions my Kenyan friends would ask of me besides “How many wives did Solomon have?”, “Is birth control a sin?”, was the question “Do Americans drink blood?” Nomads in the desert, who live off their stock, will bleed their animals during the dry season, mix it with a little milk, and drink for building the blood and strength. Anglos gagged at the thought and the Kenyans laughed at our ignorance of a tasty health drink but it always seemed to me it was another way to approach gravy.
Merriam-Webster defines gravy as “ a sauce made from the thickened and seasoned juices of cooked meat” but it can also refer to the additional unexpected benefit from something – once we pay off the house, the rest is gravy, as we have no rent. We also talk about being on the “gravy train.”
Looking up the history of gravy I was surprised to see it first appeared in the Middle Ages in French and British cook books. French tend to call it “sauce” but Brits talk about “gravy.” So going back to the 14th century, I am not the only one who needed help and instructions! My friend last week could not stop ooohhhhing about the gravy that came with Kentucky Fried potatoes but which she poured over her biscuits and remembered her Southern influence from her mother. Gravy is that extra that gets poured on meat, potatoes, rice, biscuits and anything else on the Thanksgiving menu. Gravy brings extra flavor, juice, and delight to an experience.
Jesus says, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)” Jesus’ goal is not just the potatoes or the turkey for our lives but he comes that we may also experience the gravy that comes from his grace and interaction in our experiences.
As you anticipate Thanksgiving next Thursday, reflect on experiences that were “gravy”, unexpected blessings, in your life. Perhaps passing a test you thought you’d fail. Perhaps the dream of a certain house became true or a dreamed of spouse. I do not think Jesus was talking about just material blessings. I know he has made my life better as I am gifted with forgiveness, prayer and scripture and the promises of eternity are “gravy.”