Christmas, Dear Love, Gospel

Chicken Soup

Its funny the things you took for granted that quickly become memory triggers years later. I stand in my kitchen chopping carrots. I always do it wrong. I never learned the proper way to hold your hands, to hold the knife. My dad did. He was always a good cook. He always knew how to fold his fingers away from the blade to protect them. I remember, even as a young girl, standing next to the counter with him, chopping vegetables for the spaghetti. I remember how he would always look down at me and say, “No, Katie, like this.”- He always called me Katie- and He’d take the carrot in one hand with curled fingers, and the knife in the other, and he’d begin to chop. “This way you won’t cut yourself.” And then he’d hand the station over to me and once again I’d begin to chop with fingers ready but still exposed for a knife waiting to chop. I never quite mastered that trick.

Dad always loved cooking. All of us kids picked it up. In our own way, we all spent our fair share in the kitchen, mastering our own favorite dishes. I don’t know why I’m thinking about that now. I don’t know why, as I stand here chopping vegetables and looking out the window to whispers of winter I’m thinking about that now. Funny the way memory is triggered.

My dad is sick. It was a stroke to the brain stem. And now he’s locked into his body, staring, staring, always staring. Unable to move body or words into the space around him. He’s just there, in the hospital, seven hours away from me, staring. And I keep thinking about his mind. Because his mind isn’t staring. Of that I’m sure. No. His mind? His mind is wandering. Around where I’m not sure, but wouldn’t you? If it was the only movement available to you, wouldn’t you wander? Wouldn’t you journey? And I wonder, what memories has he triggered. Does he remember all those days in the kitchen? Does he remember teaching me to chop vegetables, over and over and over? I don’t know. I don’t know what he thinks about. But I can imagine.

My dad is sick. And for the past five days I’ve been in a flare that has caused my own lock in of sorts. Three of those days I spent in a dark bedroom without moving. My body ached from the marrow out. Even the slightest movement of breath rolled my stomach in a tidal wave of nausea. In and out of  sleep I came. And in the waking, in the sleeping, I thought, I wandered. “Why is this happening? Why won’t you take this away? It would be so easy if you could just take this away. With one touch, you could take it all away. Please, please take it away.” And anger would rise, and suddenly surrender. Because who am I to command a sovereign God? And who am I, a sinner, to complain about a world full of sin? And why would I shoo away a holy moment, wrapped in the comforts of a tender God? It was painful, it was aching, but it was tender, and it was precious. For I am my Beloveds and He is mine. And even in my retching and purging all that was within me, He was there. Holding my hair, holding my heart. It was a lock in of sorts, but it was a lock in I will treasure.

I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know why He would heal me of a disease and then allow it to come back. I don’t know. And believe me, I’ve gone through a web of reasons. But I do know this, Sarah was healed. And God gave her, in that year of healing, a blessing that she would watch grow into her legacy. God gave her Isaac. And then her womb closed, and it didn’t open again. But she was not any less healed. And just as God gave to Sarah, so he gave to me. He gave to me, in my year of healing, a blessing. He gave joy, he gave me a taste of the feast that is coming. He gave me truth to a God we cannot put in a box, a God who heals, a God who loves above all else, and works in mystery, so that His will and His glory is forever put first. And just because that year is over, I am no less healed than Sarah was. And I get more. Because yes, I want healing, I will live everyday with the truth that I have healing, but I get more. Because I get to see through the eyes of my dad. My dad who is sick, and locked in, and angry. My dad who is limited. My dad who doesn’t understand why a God who loves Him would do this to him. I get to be there, in his heart, I get to cry and intercede, because I know limitations. And I know confusion. And I know suffering. But I also know Presence. Holy Presence. And I know True Love. And I know Remedy. And He is Jesus. He is my Husband. He is the One who knows me best, who loves me best. And He is there, with my dad, even when my dad can’t see it. And I get to pray that for him.

Winter feels long. Winter feels like death to some. And snow falls, like a corpse blanket, finalizing, and sealing in that death. And we want to know why? And we want to know, ‘How long Lord?’.  And we want to know where the love is in it all.

I pour the chopped vegetables into the stock. Each piece falling, plopping into thick bone broth made to soothe, made to heal. Vegetables chopped, bones boiled, each destroyed, cut up, broken, killed? All to come together and heal. Death for life. Even in Chicken soup I find the gospel. Death for life. Death for healing.

I don’t have answers today. I have lots of tears. I have lots of tears. I don’t have answers. I just have memories. Memories triggered. And whispers of winter. And daydreams of snow.

But even on the snowy days, Love is alive. And the death that seems so deeply penetrating into this earth of ours, is only rest, is only preparation. Like vegetables chopped, like bones boiled for broth. Each a season, each an ingredient. Dry bones come alive. In a soup made for healing. So we might cry with those who can’t. So we might cry with those who won’t. All for love. All for Love.

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