Sunday, September 6, 2009
This is a Christmas dinner with my family. My brother Jack is on the left next to my mother and his wife Jeannine, me, Cliff, Andy and my dad must be taking the picture.
"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul." D&C 59: 18-19
Yes, food does enliven the soul. ( Unfortunately most of it needs it be prepared.) Is it any wonder that physical nourishment is so often symbolic of love and care in the scriptures? The father of the Prodigal Son killed the fatted calf to celebrate the return of his wayward son. Today I ate a piece of bread and drank a cup of water symbolic of the atonement and Christ’s love for me.
Lehi went to the tree of life in the Book of Mormon and ate a piece of fruit that was pure and sweet above anything he had ever eaten but his joy was not complete until he could share the sweetness with his family.
Recently my grandson Michael was baptized and I cooked all week preparing a celebration feast for the people I love. "...how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you. " (3 Nephi 10:4) I feel akin to God in my desire to nourish. I believe He wanted us to make this connection.
Feeding people is the plight and joy of women. It does get old and tiresome but we nourish with food knowing that the body must be fed before the spirit can be taught. We do it because nothing is more loving than a nourishing, tasty meal set before a hungry family or friends. We do it because nothing feels quite like the joy of making someone’s favorite dessert.
Men also have a part in the nourishment process as they provide the means for obtaining the food. I have watched my husband keep a job that never really excited him for years, because it was the best way to feed our family. I saw my dad come home from the coal mine every day with black around his eyes because the paycheck bought bread. And of course there are the men who cook, like my brother Jack. Feeding people, wonderful food, is his greatest joy. And often when others are enjoying the party Jack is in the kitchen.
About a year ago I was asked to be the compassionate service leader in our Ward. I worried about asking women to bring meals to those in need. Would it be difficult? Would they respond? Would I end up doing a lot of cooking myself because I couldn’t find anyone? I have been pleased and impressed with the women in my Ward and their willingness to serve each other. I thank heaven for e-mail, which has made my job easier. We have fed some families during my time for several months at a time--one who had severe morning sickness and couldn’t cook. Then again when she was threatening to miscarry her baby. We fed another sister who was inactive. Her husband was having some problems and she had to go back to work. I silently questioned the number of meals we took to her. One sister fed this family every Monday for several months. Then one Sunday several months later a sister I didn’t recognize sat by us in church. It was this sister who had come back to activity and has been at church weekly since. We fed her family and she couldn’t resist our love.
There are mornings when I send out an e-mail requesting meals and by noon I have 10 or more offers to cook and deliver one. Recently I passed around a sign up sheet in Relief Society for two weeks of meals and every day was filled by the end of the meeting. Surely the sisters in my ward have taken the scripture to heart: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my (sisters) ye have done it unto me."
When we moved into our Fruit Heights home 2 years ago the Relief Society presidency brought dinner. At the time I thought, "They can’t do this for everyone who moves in." We are in a new area with people moving in every week. But they did. Dozens of meals, I know. Food cooked by someone else always tastes so good. Home cooked food waiting in the refrigerator is very comforting.
I had foot surgery this year and my visiting teacher brought a beautiful dinner. I felt guilty. It is easy to give but not always so easy to receive.
Today I am in awe of all the women who nourish with home cooked food. I couldn’t resist telling the sisters in testimony meeting that they are amazing.
"And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food... " D&C 42: 43