Monday, June 20, 2005

Food for the Soul

I haven't been well this past week.
Stop. That's an understatement.
I felt like hammered hell all week.

(Before anyone begins to worry -- I am on the uphill swing and expect that after my last dose of this disgusting medicine tomorrow that I will be back at 100%...okay 75%, but I'm optimistic.)

While I was laid out on the couch...or in the bed...or at the doctor...my dear husband didn't have to lift a finger to make a meal for us or the children the entire week. No, that was taken care of my sweet dear sister friends.

I don't really know if taking meals to people is a big deal in other parts of the country. I don't remember it occurring alot when we lived on the West Coast, but then again, we weren't "plugged in" like we are here. And we ran with a different crowd there in SoCal...I'm not sure that anyone really knew how to cook anything because we were all so busy being seen at restaurants and cafes. (Let me insert here that our best friend couple friends were the exception to this rule and not only could cook an outstanding meal but brought plenty to our doorstep over the years. But let's face it, the LA basin is a big place...I hardly consider one couple's actions a trend.)

So, as I hung out last week thinking about anything else but how bad I felt, I considered the ritual of taking meals to someone under the weather...or with a new baby...or a funeral...

The first reason we do it is just pragmatism. When you're sick, everyone else has got to eat, and there is one less person taking up the slack around the house. Same with a new baby. Since mom is the one who HAS to have the baby (sorry, no equal opportunity yet for men to carry & deliver so the duty and privilege is all female), she deserves at least a day or two before she's back cooking for the whole family and nursing the baby, too! And well, funerals...there's all the company and drop-in visitors and just the energy that it takes to mourn and deal with death. Who wants to think about food?

The second reason is physical nourishment. Yeah, cereal or tv dinners work in a pinch, but in all the scenarios that would call for a homecooked meal, there is typically some need of the physical, nutritional nourishment. Have to knock out the sickness...regain your strength...keep up your strength...whatever the case may be.

But I think the most compelling reason that this tradition continues is the spiritual nourishment.

I look back over the week at the meals that were brought for us -- Spaghetti casserole and homemade lemon meringue pie (lemon = my all time favorite anything) ... then our favorite dish from our favorite Chinese take out (Pei Wei, by the way) ... then a family favorite hearty soup with rice & beans (I had 2 bowls ... and there were NO leftovers) completed with brownies & ice cream ... followed by gourmet chicken parmisagne and salad and oatmeal cookies still warm from the oven...and yes, of course, the FAMOUS meatloaf that makes you want to BE sick just so your friend will have a reason to bring it to your house! Many have tried to duplicate it, but none have succeeded.

Okay, I confess that I run around with a bunch of overachievers, but that's another blog altogether.

My family doesn't eat that well when I am running on all four cylinders, so this was like a tour of fine dining for us. The point is, though, that my friends didn't just 'make do' or do whatever was easy... they took the special act of feeding us and turned it into the act of ministering to us. They delivered their meals all beautifully presented...then came and sat with me...talked to the kids...made sure everything was either in the oven as needed or laid out for my husband so it could take the meal to completion.

The food was great! Hubby loved it! Kids loved it! Heck, I even loved it with the metallic taste in my mouth! (I can only imagine how good it REALLY was.)

While the food was great, the gesture was greater. There was a deliberate thought to each meal. To each delivery. To each element of the meal. To the timing of when we would need it. To what my family would enjoy. To what would make it more than a meal, but would make it special and, in turn, make us feel special, too.

It's food. Stores and restaurants are full of food.
Food feeds the body.
But it was also deep friendship.
And that can't be bought or ordered or prepared or called for take-out.
It can only be served up, sampled and enjoyed.
It's friendship.
And it is friendship that feeds the soul.

1 Comments:

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Biotress said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your thoughts about friendship feeding the soul. That's a great line.

 

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