Notes from Jan

Comfort Food

January 26, 2023

Comfort’s not classy. It’s cozy. In food, for me, it shows up like a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. Or like this morning, a bowl of oatmeal to take the chill off a winter morning. Sometimes it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie with a cold glass of milk. We all have our favorites.

Simple foods brought me back to a story when my Mama was in her first year of nurse’s training at the Norwegian American hospital in Chicago, Illinois. During Mama’s first break, she returned for a weekend visit to her family. They lived in the Logan Square part of Chicago, where many Norwegian immigrants settled. Her Papa was the pastor of the Logan Square Baptist Church with services in Norwegian and English, such as it was.

Well, like most of us with a little bit of education, Mama returned to teach her parents what she’d been learning. Most important, to her, was their nightly routine. You see, every night before bed, her parents sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. Never decaf!

So my Mama declared, “This is not healthy. You need to have a glass of warm milk, not coffee and toast. Trust me, it’s better for you.” Well, they wanted to be healthy and they also wanted to trust their eldest child’s freshly gained wisdom. So Mama and Papa said, “Vell, ve vill try dis new ting, Margaret.” So my Mama headed to her bed where two other sisters also slept, while her parents put into practice “dis new ting.”

About two of so in the morning, my Mama was awakened to sounds coming from the kitchen, along with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. There sat her parents enjoying their usual bedtime comfort food. When they saw their daughter, Papa raised his cup and said, “Such foolishness. Ve couldn’t sleep vit varm milk. So ve made our usual. Ve’ll sleep now.”

And they did.

Oddly enough, this story brought me back to my small group at church, where old and new ideas percolate. I find it’s comfort food for my soul. Tonight’s topic’s on HOLINESS. Sounds less than comforting. But I liked how Rowan Williams took being holy from a focus on ME to YOU. Just the opposite of how some folks feel around people who impress and depress you with THEIR “holiness.” He wrote, “A holy person makes you see things in yourself and around you that you have not seen before, enlarges the world rather than shrinking it.”(from Being Disciples, p. 53)

Which left me “tinking” about folks who’ve done that for me. Well, stories from my family and our small group, for starters. They nudge me to keep discovering and enlarging my world. And in a strange leap to accept when a cup of coffee and a piece of toast at day’s end may be just what the “doctor” ordered.

Just “tink” about it.

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