Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lessons from the Sauce Pot

My good friend, Maria Johnson, has a fun post about 33 random things about her life. I always appreciate those kinds of posts from the writer's I read, I love to get to know them a little better. So I thought I'd share this piece that came from some of my earliest scribbles on a blog... it's not quite 33 things, but there's some randomness in there... and a little history... 

It was a cold, damp day here in New England... a good day for something warm from the kitchen...

I am adding the final touches to the tomato sauce on the stove that I have just made from scratch…  The smells from the pot make me think of my sister, who gave me her favorite sauce recipe when I was a younger newlywed.  As I carefully pour the red wine into the measuring spoons, struck by the wine’s bouquet, the memory of my French grandmother comes into view. She always had red wine on the table.  

My saucepot musings continue as the Lord is bringing other memories to mind, and I find this cooking session is now a prayerful reverie.

My favorite meatloaf recipe comes from Mom, my favorite bread recipe from a friend I have now lost touch with – and yet I think of both of these women whenever I prepare those recipes. 

And as I reflect, a more profound thought takes over. So many other ingredients that are “in me” really came from the simmering influences of interesting people, the rolling boil of intense circumstances, the fresh produce of education and work, and the salt added by my tears. My genetic make-up, my likes and dislikes, my quirks of personality, and the things that matter to me most yield this-- I am a spicy, saucy combination of what’s been handed on to me, a unique recipe.

I am the only woman of my generation to get blue eyes from my maternal grandmother. 

My love of flowers and bird-watching comes from my mother, and my appreciation for craftsmanship and brick and stone masonry from my father.

My sisters taught me to lighten up and that even though I am the oldest, I don’t know everything.  They are still showing me the way.

I grew up on Long Island and will forever be a beach lover, a bagel eater, and a cheesecake fanatic in search of a great diner.

I give in to the seduction of dark chocolate because my father always gave heart-shaped  Valentines -- filled with Russell Stover chocolates.

I learned to love music by spinning records on my parents’ phonograph. I am captivated by guitar music thanks to Chet Atkins, John Denver, André Segovia, and Eric Clapton, not necessarily in that order.

I love the outdoors, especially mountains, because I was a Girl Scout. I can still tie impressive knots on a campout.

I write because of three memorable teachers I had in junior high and high school. 

I learned about real lasting friendship and Christian fellowship in high school. I began to understand how the aroma of Christ attracts people like me. Thirty years later, I still enjoy friendships from those years, and the fragrance is still sweet.

I am a true road warrior. My mother probably doesn’t think I got this from her, but I did. I was a young child when my mother learned to drive. She’d cart us all around Long Island to beaches, museums, and the City. But “the road” really grabbed me during my 17th summer when my folks let me take a “supervised” road trip 400 miles away with a station wagon full of friends, sleeping bags, and one adult chaperone.

During my college years I sought a God who already knew me by name, and promised me a future and a hope that was yet unseen. I learned to work hard for no pay at college internships and to remember those days when I later earned a good salary.

In marriage, I understood what laying my life down finally meant. 

My love of photography comes from my boyfriend, now husband of 20+ years, Bob.  We need a separate bookcase just to house all the photo albums.  My travel bug comes from Bob too. Over the last two decades we’ve ventured to see the places we had only dreamed about.  In the process, I’ve learned that I’m better with maps and planning details, and he is a much better packer and budgeter.

Most important, Bob taught me about sharing my dreams, and not being afraid of success or failure.

I learned about mothering as a vocation from the women of my prayer groups over the years. My friends of Italian ethnic origin taught me to serve rich food alongside welcoming bear-hugs. Those same women provided me with a few more recipes that are now my own. Their friendships provided nourishment to a hungry soul.

Being a breast cancer survivor has taught me that today is a gift, and to always say “I love you” to your family and best pals. And that it is worth it to make a sauce from scratch. You learn to savor so much in the process.

My Catholic faith comes from the Church and my parents and others who don’t even know they had a holy influence on me. My parents had me baptized, taught me my prayers, sent me to Catholic schools, encouraged me to go on retreats.  My high school youth group helped make Jesus “real” to me, before I truly understood about the “real” presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and other deep theological truths. 

In my worst times, sufferings taught me to hope and to understand why Jesus suffered and poured out his blood for us. And in my best times, I know why Jesus poured the wine at the Last Supper, and why we will be enjoying a finer vintage someday at a heavenly banquet. (I bet an amazing sauce will also be on the menu!)

So today I stir the sauce and I pray: thankful for all the ingredients –like graces-- that have been stirred into my life. I realize that Christ is calling me to be like this hearty sauce: A warm inviting aroma, nourishment to those I’m called to feed, and poured out for those I serve.

1 comment:

  1. and the best part about that sauce is that you share it with the same love that you put into preparing it.

    cuz you are awesomesauce.


Too shy to leave a comment here? Email me at amongwomenpodcast@me.com.

The new Roman Missal (click & learn about the coming changes):

Watch Catholic TV here! Find Women's programs: "WINGs" and "Woman at the Heart of the Church"

A Lovely Reminder for Every Day

Coffee drinkers! Support AW by drinking Mystic Monk Coffee!

Ship a Cake, and Share a Blessing