Food for grief

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One  of the hardest things in life is being there for people as they mourn. Everyone grieves differently and not knowing what people need, want, or could use during extreme times of grief is difficult and strange. Especially if you are mourning as well yourself.

We allow ourselves to become apathetic and believe someone else will step in to take care. Someone closer to them, who knows them better, who they want to see more than us. And in some cases that seems appropriate, in others I think we just are talking ourselves out of a difficult situation. My pastor once talked about how Peter, who denied he knew Jesus, must have been haunted by Jesus’ eyes of grace and challenged us to think about who was haunted by our own eyes of grace. Maybe don’t haunt those in grief but I do challenge you to show up for them.

Sitting with people through hard conversations, awkward encounters, tough decisions, and tears is not something we generally feel comfortable with or crave. And yet this is when we need each other the most, this is when we realize who we can count on. It’s hard to know how to be there for others or how to comfort those who are weeping, but something, done in love, is always better than nothing.

I have no good advice here, except that food is something we all need, happy or sad, hopeful or hopeless, near and dear or strangers. Grocery shopping in grief is rough, and essentials are always helpful, maybe show up with a bag of those. Grief brings visitors, offer to supply the drinks and ice needed to entertain others. Show up with a meal, one that can be easily frozen if need be or can feed those there and any others that might show up. 

And listen. Or maybe distract. Sometimes, against all odds, a funny story is all that’s needed. A funny story and soup. A distracting hour away from grief can be very therapeutic. And risotto, or pasta, or a casserole… Now I’m hungry. But also inspired.

Who’s Coming to dinner?

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There is a lot of hate in this world, a lot of racism, division, cliques, separation, judgement, and negativity. There are a lot of ideas circulating about how to fix all of those problems, to get rid of guns, or people of certain religions, to intigrate, to seperate, and there is very little agreement about what the right solution is.

I do not have any ideas on how to fix the worlds problems. I do know that eating together brings people together, that having a conversation over a meal can make you realize that the ‘other’ that you are afraid of is really very similar to you, that we care more about people when we love them for who they are, instead of what they are, who they worship, what color they are, where they are from, who they look like, or how they vote.

So my question to you, as wars wage, as Paris is remembered and Orlando is thought of, as political battles wage, and we discuss ideas and differences, as we mourn and we fight, my question is who would you invite to dinner? Would you eat with the victims? Would you eat with your own family members? What if they voted republican? Or democrat? Would George W. get an invitation? What about Obama? Would you invite over the Mormons, or the Muslims, or the fanatic Christian with the picket sign? What if they were homeless? What if they were rich? Would you eat with white people or black people, Hispanics or Canadians? If you wee having a spaghetti dinner tomorrow night and could feed the whole world- who would you exclude?

Maybe we can’t ban all the guns, stop all the terrorist, change all the thinking, or keep everyone safe. But if you could feed everyone tomorrow-would you? Maybe we can’t change the world but we can work on ourselves.

I do not encourage you to try to invite everyone over to your house next week for a spaghetti dinner, the cleanup would be massive! But I do encourage us to be more like Jesus, to eat with those who others wouldn’t be seen with, to break bread and feed everyone that we can, and to remove ourselves to a garden alone with our friends to pray when we are overwhelmed to the point of despair.

Easter

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Easter is by far my favorite holiday. 

All of Holy Week is actually rather special to me and though I don’t go to a high church that celebrates Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and good Friday, I acknowledge them in my own way. Easter is really just the crown on a week of sacrificial love shown to us.

This year my husband and I were able to host Easter Day at our house. We had family from both sides and a handful of friends gathered in our backyard for corn hole, koob (apparently a Viking yard game I’ve only recently been introduced to), and egg decorating. My family was introduced to pisanki egg dying many years ago by friends of ours, it’s an elaborate method of melting wax in a special pen like tool and writing on eggs before putting them into strong dyes. At the end you melt the wax off and you can see the layers of color hidden beneath the wax. This was the first year I’ve been able to do pisanki eggs at my own place and it was fun to share it with so many new people, it is a practice in patience.

The best part was gathering around the food, having my husband and brother in law slice up ham and lamb, dishing up mashed potatoes, delicious squash, and pulling off chunks of challah bread. For dessert we had cheesecake, meringue baskets with vanilla custard and fruit, and both a cherry and a pecan pie! It was overkill and it was delicious!

   
 Since I didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day I did as much prep before hand as I could, the breads and desserts were made in advance, dishes were started early and then finished off just before dinner, and kitchen areas were zoned off, one counter for appetizers, one for dinner, and the third for dessert. First the clean serving dishes were stacked there ready to be used and then, once done, the dirty dishes were put back on that counter ready to be taken care of the next day but forgotten for the time being.

  
It was a success for me, time spent not stressing out about what plate to put the lamb on during the rush of getting everyone served and the organization of knowing where exactly we were going to put the stacks of dirty wishes was helpful for my easily stressed out brain. And gave me time to decorate my own egg and hold my nephew.

Refocusing and a wedding

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FB_IMG_1438799299390I’ve gotten sloppy. In many areas of my life really, it is far too easy to fall off the organized wagon and into the sloppy realm. It didn’t help that I moved four times, planned a wedding, got married, and have been moving into my real home, settling in, and trying to learn how to be married all in the last two years. Currently it all seems like a never ending task, emptying the boxes and setting up rooms in a house I’ve now lived in for nine months, as well as learning how to be married.

So for the learning to be married thing we continue therapy and practice at it daily.

But for the rest of my life I’m trying to get myself back together, not just back together but, hopefully, better. I do better being organized when I have a schedule and as I had goals to reach, something to keep me coming back, and a topic I truly loved in this blog I’m using it to help me return to myself some. If I’m encouraging others to feed people and build community I know it will encourage and spur me on to do the same, if I’m sharing stories of meals shared and recipes tried it helps me remember to try again. And in that trying and that repeated practice of sitting down together to eat- we do something valuable for ourselves as well as those we love. We show we care. About spending time with those people, about nourishing them through time, attention, and food.

Though life has been disorganized and a bit crazy, food, community, and how we love and entertain each other is still an issue close to my heart and something the Mr and I have kept as a practice in our newly married lives.

We started with the wedding! Where we included a meal very important to me as the two of us, as well as the whole congregation, participated in communion. The breaking of the bread where Jesus gave us the important calling to eat together and remember him. Then all one hundred and twenty of us sat down to eat delicious bbq and drink local beer, cheap wine, and some PBR just for good measure.

Weddings are a weird time where you can’t always appreciate what is happening at the time it is happening, especially as the bride or groom. Having a meal that centered our marriage on eating together and remembering Jesus and then a meal we enjoyed with all the people who love and support us was an unforgettable time that has left a lasting impression that actually seems to grow instead of diminish the further we get from it.

If you’ve read this blog before- Welcome back! If you are new- Welcome!

I hope you all enjoy the thoughts on food we share here that encourage us to move deeper into each other’s lives, build stronger communities, and taste the cultures and homes of others.