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The Grace of a Meal

april 23

Nearly twenty-two years since the miscarriage, I still remember the salad. Crisp greens, crunchy-sweet purple grapes, pecans, and gorgonzola, all drizzled with poppy seed dressing. No one brings you food after you miscarry. Champagne corks don’t pop in the labor room while you feast ravenously after the hard work of delivery. Instead, you sit in quiet recovery and swallow hard to push dry saltines past the lump in your throat. When you go home, there are no covered casseroles borne by church ladies carrying pink or blue balloons. Mostly, people just mumble something and avert their eyes, or they ignore the loss and you altogether.

Not Martha. She walked through my front door with my favorite salad and then sat at my kitchen table to hear my heart while I tried to eat and cry at the same time. It was manna. Before she arrived, I had no idea how hungry I was—in my belly and in my heart. With the meal, came the tangible nourishment of both body and soul. With the real food, came the real gift. It was food that gave my soul sustenance to heal. She knew I needed to eat; she also knew that I needed her presence in my grief.

When God comes to us in the sacraments, He imparts to us tangible, extravagant grace. He literally nourishes us with the gift of His friendship. Our Creator understands us. Even in our most private, painful writhing, He sees us. God doesn’t look away. The grace gift—friendship with our Lord—is one He allows us to taste and touch and see. He walks right through the front door with the gift of Himself and invites us to eat, while He waits. And then, in the intimate moments of communion, He hears our hearts. This extraordinary meal nourishes the wounded with God Himself and He heals us.

You? Standing, at your kitchen counter, cutting sandwiches into triangles or squares? You also bring grace to the people you feed. Today, in the mundane moments of peeling potatoes or stirring soup, consider the people you bless.

Make your preparation in the kitchen a litany of love. Then, share the grace of a meal or a loaf of bread or a slice of pie with someone who needs to be nourished by the gift of your friendship.

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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