My mind said, “Steamed fish with butter and herbs” but my heart (emotional not physical) cried, “Steak and potatoes.” Steak won. One deep breath and taste transported me to DeKalb, Illinois, age nine. It happened Sundays after church. We walked into the parsonage and the aroma of Mama’s roast beef with potatoes and carrots said, “Welcome home.” Dessert showed up as lemon, apple or cherry pie.
Until last night, I’d forgotten the taste of beef, corn fed, hormone and additive free. And steak, more like a small roast, fed three of us. We, a group of ten, sat at table in Tuscany last evening, enjoying a four hour meal, an Italian specialty. Yes, after time with Lily in Paris, I’m in Italy with Heather, my daughter and some of her friends. Mine, too, this mix of men and women from California. Enveloped can be a loving word and how I feel when in their company.
But today I chose solitude. Since I needed time for stillness. So while Heather and friends soak in a hot spring, I’m perched on a hill in Tuscany, overlooking a valley towards another mountain. It’s windy and sweater weather. But I’m enjoying the porch, laptop situated on a rustic table and I on a bench. Who’d have thought I’d find the internet out here. But not inside, where thick walls stand guard against modernity. Our room’s tucked inside a house built in the sixteen hundreds. Imagine that! I’ve landed in a place where organic goes beyond a movement.
Pausing to pop a grape into my mouth, I’m reminded of words from Garrison Keillor’s 9/28 post. “Writing prose is a form of gardening.” Today it’s about seeds. The green seeded grape’s from a nearby vineyard. I marvel at the gift of simply sitting and savoring one grape at a time, like plucking a word. A small pile of seeds grows next to the bowl of grapes. We’re more into seedless back home. Seeds take time.
And that’s what I’m doing today, I suppose. Sifting for seeds, like last night’s steak and potatoes revealed. Although, when I shared the story with Trevor, he said something about church, suggesting the meal was the better part of Sunday. And that’s true for most folks today, according to polls on declining interest in religion and church. Which I get. Attempts to graft politics onto Christianity reaps consequences.Thereby, producing fruit unfit for the soul’s deepest hungers.
As a result, I’ve watched too many friends and family distance themselves from church and religion. Maybe it would help if we simply brought back Sunday dinner. What if we took time to envelope folks unlike us to come to the table, as Heather’s friends welcome me? And simply allowed time to sit and savor life grape by grape, growing a pile of seeds together as we share life, tangible reminders of common hungers, soul connections and transformational possibilities within a single seed. Or word.
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