Chuck Terrill: A good friend is hard to find

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

When Bob Mitchell came to church one Sunday morning, he was clutching a blue Walmart shopping bag.

When I greeted him, I shook his hand. Bob asked me, “Do you and Mary like mushrooms?’

It was morel mushroom season in Missouri. I immediately answered in the affirmative. “We love fresh mushrooms,” I said.

“Here,” he said, and handed me the blue bag.

I thanked him for his generosity, and looked into the bag. It was a heavy bag, and I imagined it was full of beautiful white mushrooms. Staring up at me from the bottom of the sack was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It was roundish, about 8 inches across, and about five inches thick. It was lobster colored, and covered with crevasses and cracks. In one of the cracks I could see a millipede crawling around.

When I looked up, I must have looked startled. Bob smiled.

“Are you trying to kill us,” I asked smiling Bob. “We like mushrooms, not fungus! What is that thing?”

He said, “I’ve always called them chicken-of-the-woods.” he replied. “They grow on rotten wood stumps, and that one is a nice one.” I thanked him again, and promised we would try it.

When I showed it to Mary, she had the same reaction, “Is he trying to kill us?” We Googled the thing, and Bob was telling the truth. It was a “chicken-o’-the-woods.” Mary put it in a bowl of salt water, put a saucer on top, and put it in the refrigerator for two days.

Then, she put it in the sink and scrubbed the bugs out of it. Our kids were coming home for the weekend, so she made pizza. She put slices of that ugly mushroom on top and those pizzas were delicious! The next day she cut the remainder up and used it in spaghetti sauce. It was delightful!

Bob has lived in Cassville for a long time, and he knows a whole lot more than we know, about a lot of things. We trusted him, and our trust was well placed. Because of Bob, Mary and I now love chicken-of-the-woods. They really ought to call them “better-than-fried-chicken” because they are.

I’m writing about the mushroom now, because last Sunday Bob brought us an avocado his cousin grew down in Florida. It is bigger than a softball. We are in for a whole lot of guacamole!. Thanks, Bob, not for mushrooms or avocados, but for being my friend.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.