It is no secret, to those of you who read my reflections on a regular basis, that I am a Chopped fan.  I am not sure I have missed an episode since it first aired.  I have learned a lot about cooking from watching the show in terms of techniques and flavor profiles and combinations.  However, one of the recent episodes moved me to tears and touched me spiritually in a way that I was not expecting.  It all happened with a single word.  WAIT!

This episode, like a few of the others, was a redemption battle between four chefs who had come in second in their initial competitions.  I remember each of them well.  However, from the beginning, I had my two favorites Yohanna and Lance.  I had remembered them from their initial appearances because of their humility, their grace, and their creativity.  While I understood why each of them had not won their respective competitions initially; there was something about them, which stayed with me as if I had experienced their spirit in some way.  So when I saw them both on this episode, it was like encountering an old friend except I didn’t want either of them to lose again.

The amazing thing was that neither did they.  Before the final judgment, they were so supportive of each other and showed so much compassion for each other.  They agreed between themselves that regardless of what the judges ruled, they were both winners.  Lance spoke about how he believed that Yohanna should win.  I think in part he was touched by how she pressed through the pain of the 2nd degree burns on her legs, which she acquired when boiling hot water poured down her legs when she slipped in the kitchen.

So here they stood before the judges, each having given everything they had that day.  Yohanna hoping she would win this time so she could return to France and visit her sick grandmother who had birthed in her the inspiration and creativity to cook as she does.  Lance was hoping to win to show that one could embody one’s spiritual values and excel in a very competitive profession.  As Ted Allen lifted the cloche to reveal that this time it was Yohanna had been chopped again, you could have heard a pin drop.  The judges struggled with the words to say, tears rolled down Yohanna’s face and even Ted Allen seemed moved by this obviously difficult decision.

As she was exiting the studio, you heard a single word come out of Lance’s mouth.  WAIT!  With that single word – WAIT – everything seemed to freeze in suspended animation for a moment. Wait was the word he used to summon Yohanna back to his side.  Then in the midst of this emotion, he turned to her and spoke about how he was not expecting to win.  He reminded her of their agreement in the green room that they were both winners and then offered to give her the plane ticket to France so she could see her grandmother.  I am sure there was not a dry eye in the studio that day.  I know Yohanna was moved beyond words.  In a world where so many are out for themselves, we caught this one unexpected moment of grace and compassion.

How many of us if unexpectedly receiving $10,000 before taxes, would assist someone in need?  Wait, how many how of us have done any good in the world today?  Wait, how many of us have helped anyone in need today?  Wait, how many of us have taken the time to cheer up the sad or made someone feel glad?  Wait, how many of us have taken a moment to experience the magic and joy woven throughout our day?  Wait, how many of us have remembered to give thanks for the blessings in our lives?

We do not have to have $10,000 to make a difference in the world.  We each have the power to make a difference in the world by being the change we want to see in this world. We can touch people’s hearts with something as simple as a smile, a hug, or a random act of kindness.

Wait, let me get the door for you.  Wait, let me make dinner for you tonight.  Wait, have I told you lately how grateful I am for your presence in my life.

Wait – such a simple word, but one, which with a single utterance can change lives.