Well, I’m back from North Carolina. We love each other, so the weekend with family came and went too fast. And yet I’m full of soul food, and I’m not talking BBQ, sweet tea and fresh coconut cake. Laughter, sharing and caring fed my soul. We remembered and told stories, but didn’t let nostaligia rob us of truthtelling or hope.
Actually, the laughter started before we arrived in North Carolina. Remember, I was flying with Chad. You see, I’ve had this strange growth on my chin for over a month but couldn’t get into the dermatologist until two days ago. It was ugly. But I didn’t grasp how much until Chad said, “Mom, you need to cover that up or they won’t let you on the plane.” He implied it took away appetites. So I slapped on a BIG bandaid.
After arriving at Logan, smiling people met me with a wheelchair. “WELCOME TO JET BLUE. PLEASE HAVE A SEAT.” Chad booked my ticket and ordered a wheelchair to get me to the gate quicker than I usually go. I learned later he noted I needed people to speak up/at me. As in SHOUT! Which explains why I was so impressed with my new hearing aids. However, when it came time for him to push the wheelchair he braked, grinned and said, “Joke’s over!” I haven’t had so much fun at an airport in a very long time. Laughter fed my soul. So did just sitting beside Chad on the plane, playing wordgames.
On the other hand, there’s nothing quiet about my family. Apparently, the morning after I arrived, Chris got out of bed to ease a leg cramp but her leg didn’t cooperate. It buckled. She fell, hit her head and had a concussion. Elise, their daughter and maker of that delicious fresh coconut cake, called 911. An ambulance, EMTs and a Dr. came. Chris was laid to rest…back in bed. A lump on the head and bruised shoulder. The RX? “Keep her talking and keep an eye on her.”
Meanwhile, my brother, said, ‘I’m not feeling so well.” When his daughter, Sarah, looked at him, he had two fingers on his wrist, checking his pulse. His strength is not dealing with medical emergencies. So the rest of the weekend that was our signal to each other. Two fingers on our wrist, followed by laughter. Ralph grinned sheepishly.
We bingewatched The Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix. It’s Korean with subtitles, but then I use subtitles most of the time, except for sports. It gets in the way of plays I want to see. Nothing like pajama time, watching a good movie or tv series, and Ralph’s popcorn. Togetherness feeds the soul.
Oh, I forgot to mention that during the emergency, I slept. I was less help than my brother. Well, at least, I didn’t add to the stress. Except after a while, quasi-alert Chris asked, “Has anyone seen Jan?” Somebody should go check, see if the doctor went to the wrong room.” Elise checked. I was breathing. Whew! In my defense, the room had dark drapes and a fan whirring. Stillness fed my soul.
But slightly after 10 am, and all medical folks were long gone, I emergered. Well rested and oblivious to any emergencies. The smell of country ham, Norwegian pancakes does that for me. The following morning I awoke to my favorite breakfast aroma. Bacon! Sarah was making buttermilk biscuits, bacon sizzled in the oven. She hauled it out. Perfectly done but not according to the smoke alarm. The steam set it off. I feared firetrucks would arrive shortly and we’d be designated a Center for Catastrophes. One day an ambulance, the next a firetruck. I said, “I’m heading home tomorrow before the police come.”
But no one but Hillary showed up our final morning. She blew in with hugs, a wooden frog caller for Ralph(don’t ask) and more. Chad’s friend from his days in California. But now part of our family. Friends feed the soul. We need these connections. Unlikely ones, often. The kind God brings together.
And so tonight I look forward to the first gathering for our church book study. We’re reading THE GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL YOU by James Bryan Smith. The first chapter’s entitled, “You have a soul.” It’s a reminder we’re more than a self. The world’s good, too good, at feeding the self. But the soul is at the heart of you and me. It’s easily overlooked but not without cost.
Which is why I’m eager to feed my soul tonight among people I love. Family. God’s family. I, like you, am an embodied soul. “The self is too small to bear the weight of who we really are.”(p.14) Our souls are a gift from God. The author reminds us,”The soul’s infinite capacity to desire is the mirror image of God’s infinite capacity to give….the unlimited need of the soul matches the unlimited grace of God.”(p.22)
Like the words from the old hymn says,” All I have needed they hand hath provided. Great is they faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” And like I say to my Grands often when we’re together, “Don’t we have it good!”
North Carolina family.
Soul food wherever, however, forever.
And for whoever.
And remember, sometimes our holiest act may just be a good belly laugh.
Try two fingers on your wrist.
You doing ok?
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