Food has a way of bringing us together. Even in these days of isolation and quarantine I have been amazed at the way that food brings about community. Last weekend with the sun shining and the temperature rising above 60 we wanted to be outside as much as possible. Having just baked a pan of fresh cinnamon rolls we decided to take a walk to a friend’s house to drop a few off and spread some cheer.
They lived about 2.5 miles away but we decided we had all the time in the world for a long walk and there was no reason to drive. A mile or two into our walk I heard a voice yelling my name and turned around to see my supervisor from my very first job as an adult. She got out of her car and said she had been circling the block to be able to catch up with us and say hello. We ran to each other and it took some serious restraint not to give her a big hug. This is a woman who not only taught me how to be a social worker, but how to be a better human, how to strive for honesty even when the honest conversations are hard, how to see the world in new ways and how to sit with people in hard situations. She is kind, compassionate, hilarious, and a bit sassy, as all good mentors and friends should be. It was a gift to see her and share a few moments together.
A few minutes later on our walk a door swung open at a house we were walking by and a woman from my Wednesday night Bible study stepped out. When she saw us from the window, she just had to run out and say hello. On the walk back another friend pulled up next to us in his car to see how we were doing. I could be wrong, but I dare say most of these interactions wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t quarantined. I’m not sure that any one of the people we saw would have made the effort to flag us down if we had all been rushing about our days. But the more time we spend apart, the more precious the friendships and the interactions seem to be. Those five or ten minutes face to face, but well over six feet apart, brought a genuine connection that so many of us are craving.
I’m struck by the way that food brought us together. Without cinnamon rolls there would have been no long walk and no roadside chats. It takes more creativity these days to share meals with each other, but it has a way of bringing hope and healing in the midst of these uncertain days. My hope is that when life returns to it’s normal pace that we will still take time to stop and talk to our neighbors and check in with our friends.
At our house we have been coping by baking, doing house projects, and baking some more. Quarantined days with a toddler are hectic, as I’m sure these days are for so many different people. Working parents managing child care, school, sibling rivalries, and keeping a household functioning; I’m in awe. Single people who are riding through this without the ability to give someone a hug, who don’t get to listen to constant chatter or have someone to sit next to on hard days, I think about you all when my little guy is making pterodactyl noises and driving me a little nutty; I’m in awe of you too. Essential workers who are setting aside their own fears and anxiety every day to serve a community in whatever capacity that may be, you are remarkable. Whatever your situation, be good to yourself and to those around you. This is a season for grace.
A friend of mine shared that in this season she is choosing to be grateful for the extra moments to encourage her people. How beautiful is that? Whether that means sending a card, picking up the phone, playing trains with a toddler for the thousandth time, bringing baked goods to the neighbors, or simply smiling and waving at the strangers you pass on a walk, if we look for them I am quite certain that we can all find ways to encourage our people.
Knowing full well that we might not be able to make our next meal from around the world, we decided to spin for our next random country anyway so that we could start doing research and preparing for the day that life returns to normal, perhaps a new form of normal. I’m a little dumbfounded by the country that popped up. I wish I had taken a video so you would know that I am not making this up. We got The United States of America…literally the one place that I am certain we can make a meal from. What a gift! Now we are tasked with deciding what on earth to make from this place we call home. Please leave us comments, send up smoke signals, send a letter by carrier pigeon, personal messages, whatever…just let us know what meal you think we should make to embody the USA!