Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Comfort Food for the Soul

It's the time of year. We can't help but think to favorite dishes or treats, maybe the smells of a Christmas meal, served the same way every year. Personally, I can't wait to get that care package of my mom's cookies. I look forward to her meringue cookies - the ones that the Stegmanns affectionately call "Nighty Nights" (because they 'bake' in a warmed oven as it cools overnight). Mom makes a batch of these meringues every year with white chocolate chips and orange rinds. The crunch of the meringue mixing with the softness of the white chocolate, with just a hint of orange to brighten the experience. YUM. I don't even try to make my own version of them. I just wait for mom's little bag of those cookies.

I'm sure if you think about it for a few minutes, you'll come up with some tasty treat whose memory brings you comfort.

Sometimes it's good to have these comforts around you. The world can throw some horrible punches our way. If you're like me, you'll retreat into your little world where you're comforted and everything is as it should be.

Part of that safe world, as I mentioned in my last post, are the words, the quotes of others, that have reflected the thoughts and ideas I just couldn't seem to get out. They gave me a way to get out those thoughts I just had trouble expressing.

Tonight, I found myself falling back on the one quote that I've said to myself, over and over for maybe the past 20 years. Some people, who really know me, won't be surprised that this is THE excerpt from Harold Bell Wright's The Shepherd of the Hills, written more than a century ago:

Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. How often have we seen them... jostled and ridiculed by their fellows, pushed aside and forgotten as incompetent or unworthy. He who sees and hears too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool, by the mad mob, who, having eyes, see not, ears yet hear not, and refuse to understand.

We build temples and churches, but will not worship in them; we hire spiritual advisers, but refuse to heed them; we buy bibles, but will not read them; believing in God, we do not fear Him; acknowledging Christ, we neither follow nor obey Him. Only when we can no longer strive in the battle for earthly honors or material wealth, do we turn to the unseen but more enduring things of life; and, with ears deafened by the din of selfish war and cruel violence, and eyes blinded by the glare of passing pomp and folly, we strive to hear and see the things we have so long refused to consider.

This set of truths does two things for me:

1) It encourages me that I'm not alone in my perceived fight against the 'mad mob'. Sometimes, I just feel like I'm the only one who sees things as I see them. And often, I don't like what I see around me. I see problems that need fixing, yet I feel helpless - for one reason or another - to do anything, and I feel like all I can do is bide my time until I think I can do something. I really struggle to find the opportunity in the conundrum.

2) It takes me back to a place where I felt a cozy comfort that only the hand-made world can offer. It was a place where masters displayed their works with pride and often took time to pass on a skill or idea to those willing to watch, listen and learn.

As much as possible, I still try to surround and comfort myself with those things that are made slowly and deliberately. Made in a place where time, thought, skill, care and quality count. When people pause in that hurried rush, they might just find something more real.

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