I chop onion, and shred sharp cheddar, and cry real tears as I think about two girls who love this recipe: The first, my oldest daughter--I need to call her soon to invite them both to dinner, she and husband. There will be plenty with sloppy joe's too...
And the other like a daughter--a close friend of our second from the middle found a boy two weeks ago, and now has turned against her. With the coldest shoulder she throws thick stones and calls mean names that hurt down deep, breaking open my child's heart--long leaking grief and looking for bridges to hide under.
I am angry. And I hurt more than I should--for I know this pain--and all I want to do is kiss her broken bones and make it go away.
Instead I clean broccoli, two heads just bought fresh from my farmer friend across the streets. I snap pretty crowns and rinse them clean through cold water running, and think of a happier day when they were getting ready in her tiny purple room, our sensitive one--an artist with hair and nails--working magic in red, shiny curls not her own, and lending a necklace to match the chunky pearls at her ears. She has always been that way--giving.
Two little-girls-grown who spent the summer together, both candidates for home-coming queen, giggled and speculated who would be crowned, hoping, but not quite believing it might be one of them. We took pictures close with arms draping and faces glowing, out there in the leaves.
In the evening--on a day like this, but colder--their dates escorted straight along the fifty yard line five beauties smiling big and heels awkwardly sticking in the green, as one by one their names were called. The announcer made plain the winner. And with the crowd's applause my daughter gushed congratulations, gave her friend a hug and said she was glad it was her. Their fresh flowers tangled like their sister-love.
Days later she called from school on her cell, the two of them waiting to tape up ankles before practice, and they were hungry. She asked if we had any soup left, and it wasn't long before she came flying into the kitchen, my daughter close after, looking for her favorite. All the while her bowl got hot in the microwave, she couldn't stop raving about the soup. They spooned it fast and carried pumpkin-cream-cheese muffins wrapped in paper, offered thanks as they went just as quick out the door. I said, "Anytime!" and laughed.
That seems a life-time ago. Now I clean the sink, gathering those little pieces of vegetable that didn't make it into the pot, and I think about my sister's trip to Mozambique, and her stories of the poor, hungry children who root through garbage for food and will eat anything. Anything. They would have a feast on what I just put in the trash.
And I remember a poor girl whose daddy left her small--he doesn't always make it to her soccer games, but when he does, she quivers. I wonder if he regrets his exit from her life, and how another daddy moved in to love her inappropriately. And what was he thinking as she stood there on that special night looking at her mom with another new husband--they just bought a house together, and are fixing up a room. But it's not ready yet. She still lives with her grandmother three blocks down from the old Sunoco.
I hear she's coming over later, not to hang out like old-times, but as a member of the team, working on a school project. Their honors class made a video--it's quite good really--the telling of three tales as one. My daughter played the Scarecrow, having a heart, but needing a brain, and she, Belle--the beauty, the one in the golden gown and walking like a queen. And I say out loud, I don't want her to eat my soup ever again.
And I wonder whose heart is colder, a friend's who isn't a friend any longer--maybe never was...
...or the bleeding empty one of my daughter, willing life to return to pre-fairy-tale normalcy...
...or mine, for wanting to keep all the soup to ourselves.
I don't think about it long. The answer runs down my cheeks. My mother heart cries for both of these girls. And I realize I have to rise above the emotion, lay my self down and live in an upside-down kingdom where all is motivated by love.
My daughter is right in choosing to forgive, even if the friendship is never restored. I must determine to do the same, and with grace offer up soup to the needy and poor, just like Jesus dishes it to me...extravagantly...freely...like I'm a queen instead of a pauper.
I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. ~Luke 6:35-36 The Message
Joining with Emily and other "poor" friends at:
This is essentially a true story, but some of the details and characters have been changed to protect privacy.
Photo's courtesy of: Ernesto Andrade and thebittenword.com
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright � 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. As taken from Bible Gateway.