The Secret, and Truly Vital, Ingredient

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I met her in a coffee shop along the waterfront, next door to the ferry terminal. She was wearing the gray, short-sleeved uniform of a Bermuda traffic safety officer and had stopped in with her partner for an afternoon break.

I don't remember how we got to talking, but soon she pulled out her phone and showed me pictures of...cakes.

Not just ordinary, everyday cakes. But tall, gorgeously-iced, beautifully-presented cakes. They were all her creations and she spoke of her work with such enthusiasm that I instinctively paid closer attention.

Many people complain about the work they have to do. Fewer speak of their work with happy pride. This woman's animation pointed to something else, something more, as we bent over the pictures together.

In her tone, her manner, her careful attention, there was a keenness for what flour and sugar, eggs and milk could do. Her regret? That she did not have more time to devote to such creations.

A friend had asked her for her recipes once, and had followed them exactly. But the end product didn't taste the same.

"You know why?" she asked me.

I didn't.

"Because she didn't love it," she said, looking me in the eye. "I could tell. You have to love it."

Her break was over and she and her partner went back to their work. But I stayed longer, with notebook and pen, staring at the words I had been writing on the page, and thinking.

Thinking about love as the most important ingredient in creation.

I asked myself the question: do I love these stories that I am working on? The answer came quickly, and I was glad of it.


I have tried working on stories I don't love. Stories, that for some strange reason, I felt I should write. Producing words for those felt like digging through concrete. With a spoon.

"You have to love it."

I packed up my pen and notebook, gathered my things, and stepped out into the warm afternoon. A light breeze moved the flags. Birds soared through the blue sky. Waves splashed at the dock wall along Front Street.  Pedestrians moved quickly down the sidewalks, hastening somewhere after their day's work was over. A group waited for the lights to change at the street crossing.

And I was struck by the fact that all this was part of Someone else's creation. This setting, these characters, came from Someone else's mind.

And though events have broken and wounded the original creation, it's still apparent what was in His mind when He made it.

He had to love it.

And He did.

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