Mexicali Soup was written by Kathryn Hitte and William D. Hayes and illustrated by Anne Rockwell in 1970. The mother of a large family is on her way to shop for the ingredients for a favorite recipe, Mexicali soup. Along the way she encounters the members of her family, and each one asks her if she would mind leaving out a certain ingredient. One would prefer that the soup have no peppers, another that there be no tomatoes, someone else asks her to eliminate the potatoes, and so on. By the time dinner is served, the family finds themselves seated at a table spread with bowls of . . . hot water. The mother’s accommodations to her family’s tastes, preferences and desires resulted in a recipe that basically included nothing. Can you imagine coming to the table to find a bowl of hot water at your place setting, when your stomach is rumbling and you have been eagerly anticipating your favorite meal all day? How disappointing! No one can be nourished and satiated with just a bowl of hot water. What a bland, uninteresting and lifeless dish.
I believe we risk the same when we turn away from people who are different, or flawed, or who embrace other beliefs or lifestyles. When we think someone is strange or unattractive or not smart. When someone is sick or differently-abled. When we look at another person and don’t see a reflection of ourselves. Is it really so hard to remember that Jesus embraced everyone, from the outcast tax collector to the prostitute, to the leper, to the criminal? He welcomed the little children and befriended the friendless. In the Mexicali soup of life, if we leave out the ingredients we don’t like, or even the ones we only think we don’t like, what kind of a meal are we creating? What kind of dinner are we eating? What sort of nourishment are we taking in, and more importantly, what is missing from our diet?
When God created the earth it contained every sort of plant, bush and flowering tree, some for the nourishment of our bodies and others to please our eyes. When He populated it with animals, there were mice and wildebeests and kangaroos, reptiles, lizards, birds and insects. It is mind-boggling to contemplate the number of lifeforms, with their distinct biological processes, survival mechanisms, and appearances, that exist in this beautiful world. And when God created man, He made each one in his own image, yet completely unique and individual. God’s creation is diverse. It was never His intention that we should limit our diets to a few select foods, or share our world with just a handful of other creatures. And it was His plan that we should live together in harmony as children of God. It can be uncomfortable to be more inclusive. Whether sampling an exotic new flavor or texture in an unfamiliar dish, refusing to eliminate ingredients from a tried and true recipe, or reaching out to others who are different, these changes can be hard. But the end result is delicious, not just for the palate, but for the soul. As God intended.