I work in an environment that can be stressful. The phone is always ringing. A steady stream of people stop by my desk. They all have a problem or want something. I am not complaining. I have a good job, a good situation. However, some days the constant press of people and furious activity just seems to drain my spirit.

As lunch approaches, I know that I have to get away for an hour. I always call my sister, who works just across town. If it is near noon, she already knows why I am calling. It is a Chinese buffet day. And likewise, if I get a call around noon from her, I know that she wants to go. It is a habit we have formed, one that we do not even need words for anymore.

“Hi, Whit. You wanna go?”

“What time?”

“Right now.”

“Ok, I’m already in the car.”

When I think about it, these days are often the same days that I am struggling with a personal decision that I do not have an immediate answer for or when I am terribly excited by a certain prospect. And when she calls, she wants to talk about something that is bothering her or an idea has caught her up in a whirlwind of anticipation. We want to share our excitement, our frustration with someone who can understand it.

Lunch always passes quickly, and though we eat a lot, the plates never pile up. Often we do not even see them go, so intent are we on our conversations. The food itself is medicine of a sort. But one of our favorite points of lunch is the end.

When the fortune cookies come.

We slowly crack open the cookie and then smile. They never fail us. We always find a tidbit of wisdom. Like today.

My sister has been thinking about her next job. She wants to start her own business. Maybe a coffee shop with some of her famous homemade caramel corn for sale. Or maybe a day spa where women can come and relax with a hot stone massage and luxuriant bath. We talked about it during lunch and she told me how she felt like she was supposed to do it, but just did not have the money. At the end of lunch, she opened her cookie and read, “Don’t be afraid to take that big step.”

Lately, I have been burdened by a hundred tasks. I try to do too much. It is not because I cannot say no. It is because I think I can do a lot of things, and then those things end up taking me much longer to do than I planned. Over a plate of lo mein, I asked for her advice. She asked me if I could give up anything, and I told her I did not want to. And when the bill arrived with my fortune cookie, I read, “There is beauty in simplicity.”

I am not naïve enough to think that fortune cookies are specific. I know they are generic and could apply to a broad range of situations, but fortune cookies also seem to be one of those things that could go either way. Maybe it is God trying to tell me something to help me along.

Maybe He arranged it so that I was the hundredth person through the door that day, and that person over there in the booth would eat too much and have to go to the bathroom before he asked for his check, and so this fortune cookie, this very one was the exact one he wanted me to have, because it had a word from Him for little old me.

Or maybe I just want to believe that there is a divine message hiding inside a cookie.

© Seth Crossman