Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soup for the Poor

A perfect day for making soup--the sun shines bright Fall's fading color, and earthy leaf-decay spreads perfume on bitter wind gusts, their twirls dancing pretty.

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 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
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.


  1. our children teach us much dont they...smiles. a stirring tale...and a lesson to take away...

  2. I think I'll go and make cream of broccoli soup now. lol Photo's are awesome!

    this is a wonderful, thought provoking, compassionate piece. so much thought went into it. thank you for making me stop, and think, and be thankful.

    enjoyed your post very much

    hope you have a wonderful day

  3. This is so beautiful, so touching Melissa. It speaks to my heart in a powerful way. I'm hurting right now for a grown son with little ones of his own, whose heart has been broken. I feel all those things you speak of and know all those things you know. We extend grace because it has been given so lavishly to us.
    Thank you for this and for visiting today.

  4. oh, i don't want to think of aiden getting hurt in such a way, but i know it will happen. and posts like these tell me, children are filled with Christ... for their love spills over... how this humbled and encourage me. such gut-wrenching honesty. and how you tied it all together with the soup... a work of art, friend. thank you.

  5. This was so well written...truly, I was enraptured from the beginning to the end. And I remember that ache of being in high school and losing a friend...what will it be like as a mother? I wouldn't want her to eat my soup either...the one with enough ingredients left over to fill hungry kids in Mozambique. And yet, the upside down kingdom fills us all...Thanks for this. I'm visiting from Imperfect Prose...Also, wanted to let you know, that I'm starting a linky-type-thing on Fridays called: If you have the time: short story share...but you can share essays, too. You can see my blog for details if you are interested, or point it to others who think might be. Thanks!

  6. Friends, thanks for all your wonderful feed-back. I guess we shouldn't be surprised at the depth of emotion that comes when our children hurt. God showed me once--by my having to walk through a humbling situation--how He feels the same about us, especially when the powers of darkness come against us. The challenge to react in love is often difficult, but He has overcome the world, and we can too in His strength. Oh, how He loves us!

    Blessings to all.

  7. Enjoyed your post, great work!
    All the best
    Marinela x

  8. there are those that i don't want to feed my soup too either. but then those who hurt us the most are those that are the most broken. thank you for these honest words. i needed them, especially to know that i'm not alone in this. thank you.


I welcome and appreciate your kind words and comments.