Faithful Food: Summer Recipes for Life

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by Kim Long

Birthdays when I was a child were a Real. Big. Deal.

What exactly do I mean when I say that? My birthday, which falls in the later part of June is hot – no way around that meteorologic certainty. Sweat, mosquitoes, school break, and my birthday all shared a particular season.

On most all other days, life was pretty ordinary, but on our birthdays all bets were off.

Our backyard was green, cool and lush. The thick carpet of St. Augustine grass cushioned our bare feet. In the evening it became our outdoor living room as my birthday celebration drew nigh. The picnic table, longish with a “redwood” stain, was covered with a paper tablecloth which caught wind better than any ready sail, and a huge cake – truly a baker’s creation topped always with a ballerina, though dance lessons had long since ceased. All my closest school mates gathered with me as candles and barbecue pit were simultaneously ignited. Everyone was on their best behavior and it showed. I went to bed thinking how wonderful the day had been, reveling in my gifts and the joy this day always delivered. I was home. I was safe. I belonged. I felt cherished. These are things, in my opinion, we should all be able to feel at least once a year.

Pentecost approaches and we prepare for this celebration of God’s outpouring by wearing red, eating special foods and giving serious consideration to a different kind of birthday gift: those gifts of the Spirit, freely given with the desire that we make use of them as often as we are able. And while we may or may not eat cake to commemorate this day, which has become known as the birthday of the Church, we certainly acknowledge that we still long for a place to fit, a place to belong. In short, this birthday, like all those which have gone before it, can be seen as a type of homecoming, a return to what holds us together as a family, a community of faith and a time to celebrate and revel in the uniqueness within each of us.

However just as when I was a child and the birthday revelry came to a close, so it is with our celebratory “season” of Easter and it’s grand finale, Pentecost.

As we drift back into Ordinary Time and tasks, how do we maintain some of that joy when ordinary things bombard us? How do we recall and remember the love of God we saw so clearly in the empty tomb on any given Thursday when there just isn’t enough of anything to go around? Well, I have been giving that some thought and here is what I came up with – not a recipe exactly, but some food for thought.

If you want to feel you belong in a family, do family things! Go visit your relatives rather than just send an odd text. Be interested, genuinely interested, in what is happening with your own relatives: praying for them, communicating with them, being there for them. Bake a batch of cookies for a relative who isn’t expecting it; make a calendar with birthdays; keep stamps on hand and send a card. No matter how tech savvy we are, most people love mail in their box.

If you want to feel Catholic, do Catholic things! Many of my teacher friends look forward to attending daily Mass during the summer break. Follow their lead! Pray a rosary as you walk in the good weather summer brings. Help an elderly neighbor by purchasing a fan; better still do it quietly and offer prayers for them. Consider helping in an outreach group in your parish. Pray a novena. Start a study group to learn more about the faith.

And above all, know that there will be challenges and ask God to help you meet them with grace and peace.
There will be loss – know that up front. Know that in the ensuing sorrow there will be, as the Psalmist says, “Joy in the morning.” Laugh, pray, love and forgive one another in imitation of God’s example! It is in these moments that we feel that wonderful sense of belonging, purpose and oneness.

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