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i was hungry {part two}

12 Apr

“For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.” -Matthew 25:35

Photo c/o CPT Borderlands 2007

Photo c/o CPT Borderlands Delegation 2007

Benjamin Hill, Mexico

“I watched a man the other day at the feeding program,” said Father Quiniones as our group sits in a restaurant in Benjamin Hill, Sonora.  “How many tortillas do you think he ate?”

We had only met Father Quiniones a few minutes before, but we could already tell that he was a storyteller.  We had already learned from Rick, our leader, that Father Quiniones had two great passions apart from the church: loving the stranger and telling a good yarn.   “This many,” he said.  He held up one palm, then turned it over for each multiple of five.  Five, ten, fifteen, twenty.  And then an outstretched pointer finger: twenty-one.

“Twenty-one tortillas!” he said.

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daily bread

8 Apr

“Give us this day our daily bread,” we teach the children to pray.

We go through the prayer, line by line, sorting out words like hallowed and trespasses. And then we make it to the honorary verse of dinner tables everywhere.

“We’re asking for the things we need for today,” we tell the kids. I can see the kids’ thoughts behind their eyes: laptops, iPods, to do well on the test. My mind wanders, too, away from bread. Give us this day the money for the rent, the money for the student loans, the money for the car repairs.

The things we need for today, yes. But first of all, we are asking for food, for bread. We are asking for the things that will nourish us and keep our bodies strong.

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telling the story: humble {day 13}

13 Oct

{This post, like others to follow, relates to mental illness and suicide. If these things are a trigger for you, please read with care.}

There is something about throwing up your red Jell-O in the hospital community room that humbles you. Or maybe that’s just me.

I line up at noon behind the other patients. The nurses check the name, give you a Dixie cup with pills. Mine has just one, a blue oval. I say my name, reach out my hands, and take my medicine where the nurse and everyone can see me. It is a strange communion. Give us this day our daily meds.

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telling the story: empty your hands {day 4}

4 Oct

I wake that Friday morning to two things: I am not in my bed. And there is bacon cooking.

I slept that night at The Lodge, after the tea was drunk and the tears were cried. I fell asleep in Bonnie’s bed, soft as a cloud, and she wrapped a blanket around me. That morning, I open slowly, hung over from crying, from saying things you cannot take back.

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using up

19 Jun

Of all the things I absolutely hate about moving, the one I find actually nice is using up our food.

Over the past few months, our apartment has been invaded by bugs.  (You’re perfectly welcome to inwardly say, “Ew.” I do.)  We’ve sprayed.  We’ve Boraxed.  We’ve bug-bombed.  But the disgusting little buggers (pun intended) keep on coming back.  So we’re taking the opportunity to move to a nice little two-bedroom townhouse with hardwood floors and more space in a lovely wooded neighborhood within walking distance of Duke.

When we’re staying in one place, it’s easy for me to hoard.  The Nutella is for a special occasion.  I’ll use the beans later.  The things in the freezer will keep forever.  But as the move draws near, I do less shopping and more pulling together meals from the boxes and jars in our freezer and pantry.  The popcorn jar grows empty.  The small bit of rice in the bag is used up.  The chicken breasts and blueberries in the freezer find their way into dinners and smoothies.

It’s a small exercise but one that reminds me to be mindful, to pare down, to examine what I have.

And to be creative.  A ripening mango plus the juice from two forlorn limes, sugar, and water makes delicious popsicles.  Leftover shredded chicken plus a flour tortilla, some chopped tomato, a few drops of Ranch, and a sprinkle of bacon bits makes a good wrap. A dollop of homemade pesto plus shredded chicken, mayonnaise, and the last piece of baguette makes a delicious sandwich.

“What we need is here,” writes Wendell Berry.  As the cabinets are emptied and the popcorn jar holds on to its last kernels, I think he’s right.