It was an offering…

Arabic Coffee

It was never too strong for us:

image from coffeemarket.com.au

image from coffeemarket.com.au

make it blacker, Papa,
thick in the bottom,
tell again how the years will gather
in small white cups,
how luck lives in a spot of grounds.
Leaning over the stove, he let it
boil to the top, and down again.
Two times. No sugar in his pot.
And the place where men and women
break off from one another
was not present in that room.
The hundred disappointments,
fire swallowing olive-wood beads
at the warehouse, and the dreams
tucked like pocket handkerchiefs
into each day, took their places
on the table, near the half-empty
dish of corn. And none was
more important than the others,
and all were guests. When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
you will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.

Naomi Shabib Nye

from Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Columbia University Press, 1992

Hunger Satisfied…

Continuing this month’s meditation theme of sustenance, here is a quote from the great mid-century food writer M.F.K. Fisher on the connection between food and love:

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.
So it happens that when I write of hunger,
I am really writing about love and the hunger for it,
and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…
and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…
and it is all one.”
— from the The Art of Eating (1954).

mfkfisher

Blessed be carrot and cow…

On grey January days when the snow steadily drifts down and the winds blow, I’m thankful for a warm house and a steaming bowl of veggie and bean stew.   In honour of winter crockpots, this is an excerpt from a poem by poet and Episcopal priest  Alla Rene Bozarth.

Blessing of the Stew Pot

photo from diabeticfoodie.com

photo from diabeticfoodie.com

…Blessed be carrot and cow,
potato and mushroom,
tomato and bean,
parsley and peas,
onion and thyme,
garlic and bay leaf,
pepper and water,
majoram and oil,

and blessed be fire —
and blessed be the enjoyment
of nose and eye,
and blessed be color —
and blessed be the Creator
for the miracle of grean bean,
for the miracle of fawn mushrooms,
and blessed be God
for the miracle of earth:

ancestors, grass, bird,
deer and all gone,
wild creatures
whose bodies become
carrots, peas, and wild
flowers, who
give sustenance
to human needs, whose
agile dance of music
nourishes the ear
and soul of the dog
resting under the stove
and the woman working over
the stove and the geese
out the open window
strolling in the backyard…

Starlings in Winter

Starling image from wired.com

Starling image from wired.com

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to be a guest minister at the Peterborough Unitarian Fellowship.   My reflection was based in part on Starlings in Winter; Mary Oliver’s beautiful and astute observations on that marvellous “wheel of many parts” that is starlings in flight.  Watching that dance renews my spirit as Oliver captures so well.

 
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard.  I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.