“Come and have breakfast.” It’s the resurrected Jesus inviting St. Peter to enjoy a morning meal.
The sentiment frames my Saturday morning story, about a wild but winning neighbor girl with special needs—as impetuous as Peter—who barged into my life and heart. About five years ago, our breakfast routine started with her kicking at the door and yelling “Senorita!” through the mail slot, her plate in hand—tortillas and crème fraiche—persuasively presuming she could walk right in and sit right down at my table.
After her third-grade classmates produced a cookbook, the pattern changed. “Let’s make a recipe!”
Our first foray? A “sunshine breakfast,” colorfully displayed in a tattered Barbie cookbook she’d picked up somewhere. I remembered a modified version of this dish, served at my college cafeteria: Wonder-type bread cut like a donut and fried with a sunny egg in the hole.
I introduced pancakes. “Make a valley in the dry ingredients. Add the wet and stir.” Pour three rounds of batter—a head with Mickey Mouse ears—onto the hot cast-iron pan. Wait for bubbles. Flip. Find the syrup. “Let me show you how to cut them.”
When she moved a few blocks away, we formalized the timeframe.
At eight on Saturdays, the phone rings. “Good morning, Miss Evelyn. Can I come, for breakfast?”
She knows I’ll say yes. I expanded our menu. Blueberry muffins. Cheesy biscuits. Potato pancakes. Toast and omelets, originally with tomato and cheddar. “Try some green pepper.”
“No, thank you.”
“Try some sage.”
“No, thank you,” though now she’s chopping peppers for herself, sprinkling on rosemary, and demanding pickle relish, which I provide to keep the peace.
We sing a grace, thanking God for an apple seed that represents the full bounty. After “amen,” she adds, “Enjoy.” After her first bite, “Read me a book!” I turn pages—chewing quickly but eating slowly. After her last bite, she pilfers from my plate—no, it’s mine—before counting out seven M&Ms, one allotted for each day of the week.
She stays several hours, respectful one minute, tyrannical the next. Did I mention the “Dear Jesus” requests for prayer? The cup of flour thrown across the kitchen? Her demeanor shifts mercurially, depending on God knows what.
This past Saturday, standing at the range waiting for banana-pecan pancakes to burp, I told her that ancient story, found on the last page of John’s Gospel: Jesus at the shore grilling fish and toasting bread for Peter. “‘Come and have breakfast,’ Jesus said. And so they sat down just like us.”
This workday morning I remembered an earlier biblical conversation, Jesus’s first words to Peter. It’s another invitation: Come walk with me.
For Peter then, for us now: God only knows where the Way will lead.