A Motherless Daughter Does Holidays

It’s the start of one of the two six week stretches of the year that can be very difficult for this Motherless Daughter. Thanksgiving through Christmas, with my birthday in between. The holidays are hit and miss for me. Most parts can be really good–some still very difficult. Sometimes the ratio is tipped in the other direction. Sometimes pulling out the old recipes I learned from Mom are joyous and bring warmth. Other times, it can be incredibly painful. And I never know which it will be until it happens.

The same can be said for these days of celebration. Holidays now–eight and a half years later–generally are in color. Not bright, vibrant color. The color you see when the lights in the room are dim. My birthday, on the other hand, is still in black and white. It’s hard to celebrate the day of your birth without the one who birthed you being part of the celebration.

In spite of all of this, though, I am thankful. I’m thankful to have had the mother I did. I’m thankful to still have the father I do. I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned from both–before and since Mom’s death. I’m thankful that I continue to move forward–even if it means some days I still limp along.

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Keeping the Feast: A Book Review

I finished reading Milton Brasher-Cunningham’s Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal this weekend. This little gem of a book includes stories, poems, recipes, metaphors, and a call to live more fully present and with people–preferably over a lovingly prepared meal. With stories of Milton’s experiences as a teacher and chef, the reader is reminded of what it means to share a meal–to linger at the table, savoring the taste and the company.

Eating is routine. It’s something we do daily, multiple times a day. It’s an activity than can be routine–or ritual, a meaningful repetition of breaking bread or eating soup or cutting meat. A ritual that occurs alone or, better still, with others. The table is a place where we go to connect, to meet needs (physical as well as emotional or otherwise), to remember our calling, to build relationships or mend fences, to find flexibility in the routine, to find joy in the mundane, to share experiences, to be broken, to be healed, to serve and be served.

Milton’s stories of preparing and serving food to friends, family, and complete strangers teaches us all that the table is a vital piece of our existence. He illustrates its importance through story, poetry, and sharing his own recipes with us (one of which is simmering on the stove as I write this). Indeed, he makes food preparation and the act of eating itself a spiritual exercise. All of it has the makings for a deeply satisfying dish.

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Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

The Cross in the Closet: A Book Review

A conservative Christian man who attended Liberty University and protested vehemently against homosexuality was suddenly confronted with doubts and questions about his evangelical upbringing when a dear friend of his came out as a lesbian and was disowned by her family. The best way he knew to respond–and gain understanding and empathy at a deeper level–was to spend a year as a gay man. The tangible result of this experiment is Timothy Kurek’s The Cross in the Closet.

Kurek began the year coming out to his family, who had mixed reactions. In general, they were loving and supportive–trying to seek understanding given this sudden turn of events for their brother/son. Kurek also came out to people at his church and the response there was very different. He learned for himself what an act of courage it is to come out of the closet, saying that very act is one worthy of respect. Kurek also spends the year becoming part of the local gay/lesbian community, getting a job as a barista at a coffee shop and spending time at a gay bar and bookstore. Some of the experiences he has in these places are at times humorous and often heartwarming. Other times, Kurek learns what it means to be cast off or be seen as an abomination. He developed relationships he probably never thought he would–and learned that love is bigger than he’d originally imagined. Not only was he, as a Christian, called to love those he’d been taught to hate or condemn previously, Kurek also realized that the kind of love to which God calls us requires us to love people we may not like or agree with. He had to find love for the church he’d felt pushed out of as well as a church the likes of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.

This book was an eye-opening account of what it means to truly walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and the lessons that can be learned in doing so. It also challenges the reader to love–really truly love–others. To find the part of God that exists in every other person on the planet and love him or her for that alone. This book can also make you more sensitive to the experiences of our gay brothers and sisters–as well as anyone else on the margins–and hopefully, make you more compassionate. For none of us has a corner on the market of love.

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Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.