Different times in my life evoke different memories of food. As a child, my mother was a good and experimental cook. I told my class she made the best re-fried beans—little did I know they came from a can. My mom had to get a recipe from my dad’s student to make them for my class.
But she and my dad liked certain foods from their childhoods. One of those was bean soup. After we had ham, my mom cooked beans with the bone and salt and pepper. I hated it. The only good thing about the meal was her cornbread, but it was a cheap and nutritious meal for a family on a low income. (Ironically, I now have beans as an important part of my diet though I like them with a bit of spice.)
When I left home, I ate with a new friend and discovered real garlic and onions. My mother used dried or powdered in her cooking. It’s real onions and garlic for me all the time!
From Wellingborough, one of the memories will be blackberries and apples. Though I knew both of those from my childhood, we rarely pick berries, until Wellingborough. Thanks to the previous ministers our garden had a bit of fruit, including blackberries bushes and an old apple tree. Over the years I found all kinds of recipes to use the bounty, from cakes to apple butter. Each summer morning, David or I picked the apples off the ground, deciding with were edible. It was a joy and a chore.
Today I decided it was time to pick blackberries. I had already determined my secret spot, away from the traffic pollution, a lovely overgrown area. I delighted in the picking, noticing that someone had been there before me. Noticing the sun highlighting the deep purple and rich red of the berries. As I wandered down the path, trying to avoid the brambles reaching out to catch me, I stepped on something. I looked down and discovered I had stepped on an apple. Did someone drop it while they were picking blackberries? Then I looked up and to my delight discovered I was under a huge, overgrown apple tree. So not only was I able to have blackberries but apples too. Apple and blackberry crisp here we come!
So often in the last few months I have been aware of what I don’t have—no meeting with people, no cups of tea, no celebrations. Some things I don’t miss. Some things I do, but this morning the apples and the blackberries reminded me of the generosity of God’s love. Life is joy-filled, despite the losses of the pandemic. And isn’t this just like grief—good and bad days, laughter mingled with tears, gratitude for what was and peace with what is and a tiny glimmer of hope for what will be.
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