A piece of cake from the Social Work consecration reception at PUC yesterday.

A piece of cake from the Social Work consecration reception at PUC yesterday.

A magical cake was served at yesterday’s Social Work reception and during the celebration and visiting I was reminded of the power of choice and how all behavior is purposeful. It is graduation weekend at Pacific Union College and several of the subject-area departments have special ceremonies for their graduates. The Social Work consecration yesterday also included farewell messages to Dr. Monte Butler, longtime faculty member of the department, who has accepted a position at Loma Linda University. So, back to the cake.

I guess it could be described as a lemon cake, but this simple label falls far short of how good this cake really is. It is so moist, and so just-right tart, with cream layers in between the lemon cake layers, that it can only be described as epic, even life-changing. It comes from somewhere in Canada and is shipped frozen to fortunate buyers across the country.

My wife organizes the reception and I was helping her and some students get the cake out on the serving tables. The first person to arrive at the reception area after the consecration service was a woman who came directly to the cake table and picked up one of the plates on which sat a beautiful piece of the magical lemon cake. I was close by and pointed out how her life was about to be changed by a cake that was beyond good. She mentioned how hungry she was, as she was about to bring it to her mouth, but I stopped her. I wanted her to fully appreciate the culinary excellence she was so close to enjoying. She paused, but then bit into the richness. “Wow!” she affirmed, with a faraway look of reflection on her face, taken to that place where only a few all-star food items can go. The she looked at me, though, and asked, “Is this citrus .  .  .?”

I replied, “It’s lemon.”

“Because I’m allergic to citrus,” she continued. “I’ll break out if I eat this.”

I pointed to the chocolate cake that was also on the serving table, thinking that this was a pretty good secondary option under the circumstances. However, she looked at that magical lemon cake again, then at me, then back to the lemon cake, and quietly admitted, “But this is too good. I’m gonna eat this anyway.”

She had exclaimed, “Wow!” just a moment before, and now I was privately thinking “Wow!” to myself as she walked off and continued to eat the incredible lemon cake. A part of me was curious as to how long it would take for the breaking-out process to occur, but I got busy with other reception duties and am unable to report on that.

What I can say is that our brains are wonderfully complex organs that at times defy logic. The human quest to satisfy our basic needs, and the uniquely personal ways we develop to meet those needs, is a powerful process. This lady’s decision to eat the cake, a thoughtful decision as she paused with the cake on her fork, in spite of her body’s negative reaction to it, is an important reminder of our ability to make choices. We each face similar decisions every day. Choice theory doesn’t make us make good decisions, but it does reveal our purposefulness in the decisions we make, which is a good thing, a very helpful thing. Choice theory is also empowering, sometimes frustratingly so, since we can’t blame circumstances, other people, or even an incredible lemon cake, for the choices we make.

This particular lemon cake came pretty close to being blame-able, though.