The neighbors were over and we had all the typical football fare -- nachos and guacamole, dips and chips, pizza, chili and cornbread. Everyone was pretty full once dinner was over and there was a break between the third and fourth quarters. We cleared the plates, replenished water glasses and general lull fell over the gathering. Kids were getting tired and adults were starting to regret that second bowl of chili.
But then -- I reached into the refrigerator and brought out a tray of sixteen glasses of cool banana pudding. It's actually not banana-flavored pudding, but more like a parfait. The bottom layer is a homemade vanilla pudding, the middle layer is sliced bananas and crushed Nilla Wafers, and the third layer is fresh whipped cream.
The puddings had been chilling all day, and their sudden frosty appearance was met with happiness and a renewed energy. Kids loved them because they were sweet and fun to eat, and adults liked the sweetness too, but there was something more I thought -- a bit of nostalgia for the Southerners, and a bit of comfort for all. I think everyone relishes the thought of his or her very own dessert, something that's made carefully for each and every person. It's something you can eat at your own pace and hold on to at the same time. You can devour it quickly, or savor it slowly. It's up to you, and there's a comfort in knowing that your host prepared one just for you.
To me, that is the essence of cooking for others -- preparations take a while, there's no doubt. There's the planning, the shopping, the cooking-- but it is worth it when friends gather, have a good time, and enjoy the food that I have specially prepared for them. It's a little respite from the problems and worries that plague us all, and brings a bit of cozy peacefulness, if even for a while.
And that brings to mind my favorite verse that provides comfort. This verse never fails to give strength to my shoulders and ease my load at the same time. It brings an irrepressible sense of calm, of peace and of relief.
[Jesus said,] Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
Wishing you comfort this winter in puddings, friends, and favorite verses.