Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary. 2 Timothy 2:20
I like bowls. Ever since the early days of our marriage some seventeen years ago. My first was a set of three decorated with sage green and coral flowers. Soon after, Mom gave me a trio of earthenware glazed with creamy ivory. And one birthday, my sis-in-law surprised me with a set of four bowls from Pier One. And though I didn’t need them, I coveted them. I just liked them that much. Over the years, my collection grew. My most recent purchase sits atop my table with apples. I found it at a thrift store for only two bucks! And I thought I’d give it as a gift. Perhaps Dana whose house is filled with cobalt. Or Nicole, who recently added the stand-out blue to her own kitchen. In the end, though, I was selfish. I kept it for myself. As I said, I like bowls.
Yes, I have lots of bowls. All shapes and sizes and each one lovely in its own way. But the thing is the oldest ones are the most endearing to me. The ones that have the most scratches bring me the most pleasure. That’s because they belonged to Mammie, my grandma. And on the rare occasion I bring them out, I think of her and how she filled the serving pieces with sumptuous treats on a daily basis. The Fireking held delicacies such as creamed squash, creamed peas and taters, or fresh garden cucumbers covered with vinegar and pepper. But the white bowls held the greatest treasure… the one sought out by all her grandkids. For it held her gravy. And in all my years, I’ve never tasted anything as good as that. Yep, her sausage gravy was second to none.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it with good things. Psalm 81:10
I’ve been feeling really nostalgic lately. More so than usual. A faded song or memory will evoke tears at least once a day. Especially Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts. That’s what filled the airwaves in the early seventies. It brings to mind the freedom of my youth. Days spent roaming the cow pasture behind our small apartment; running around barefoot without a care in the world. Sometimes Mama and Daddy would go to dances. That was the best because it meant me and Sonny got to stay with Mammie. I remember her pulling back the bed covers and asking us if we needed to make water before we lay down. And then, all too soon, there’s be a peck, peck, peck on the door late at night. Mammie would remove the bar from the entryway so Daddy could enter. He’d carry me as he walked down the steps under the cover of night. Sometimes, though, we got to stay till morning.
It was cold waking up at Mammie’s. There wasn’t central heat and the stove was near the front room. If there were several of us kids, we’d snuggle together under the blankets trying to keep warm anticipating what was to come. We’d listen to Mammie rustling around in the kitchen, the smell of gravy wafting through the air. And then it was time. Eddie, my grandfather, sat down first. And Mammie always laid everything out on the table. There was a pie tin with canned biscuits and gravy filled one of the white bowls. Mammie would tear the bread up into small pieces for me when I was small. Yep, that’s what she’d do.
Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
Here’s what I remember about Mammie and Eddie. They weren’t very demonstrative about their love. I don’t remember cuddles or kisses or tender words. No I love you’s filled the air. However, I didn’t feel unloved. And perhaps that’s because provision was their love language. When they put food in our bellies, that’s how they said I love you. The love language of food was passed on to my father. That’s what he did for his friends when I was small. He’d cook and feed them. My brother picked it up, too. I lived away from home for eighteen years and when I’d return for a visit, he’d often leave me a couple of sandwiches on the table for my trip back. The men in my life weren’t big on saying I love you, but they always wanted to fill my belly. That’s how they showed their affection.
And then, there’s me. Perhaps I’ve picked up some of those traits, too. Because I always want to stuff someone with food. As a newlywed, though, I wasn’t practiced in the art of gravy. I could never manage to make a big ole skillet full like Mammie. Once, Jason’s mom watched me as I browned the sausage only to remove it all before adding flour to the grease. She told me I didn’t have to do that and voila… the next time I made gravy, there was twice as much. And today, I’m pretty good at it. However, in all my reminiscing, I think I fall short of Mammie’s gravy.
I gather all the right ingredients, however it seems something is missing. I brown my sausage and add the flour, stirring it about till it’s absorbed. Then I add my milk and let it cook up thick. Same as Mammie. But then, I leave it on the stovetop. In the rush of modern times, I skip the step of filling the scratched bowl. I rationalize there’s no reason to dirty another dish when I can fill our plates from the cook top. It would just be another thing for me to wash. But in all my musing this morning, it seems I’m leaving out the most important ingredient. I’m forgetting to add the love.
I am a busy woman. I live out most of my life in a heated rush. I have things to do. Thousands of things. So I hurry through everything. But Mammie was different. Because her household chores and family was the only thing she did. So she was more thorough in her work. Me? I think I’ve been skimping. But today, I feel called to do more. Because filling bowls to set on the table is becoming a lost art. Taking time to fill the vessel and lovingly set the table is a beautiful thing. It’s a way I can love my family more thoroughly. And without saying the words, my family will hear, “I love you.” Like I heard Mammie.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them… John 21:12,13
After Jesus rose again, He appeared to His followers. They were out fishing. He called them to shore so they could share a meal with Him. That’s when He asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Of course Peter said yes. So Jesus commanded him, “Feed My lambs.” And again, “Feed My sheep.” But He meant more than the act of eating a meal; more than bread alone. Because man lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. “I am the bread of life.” I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Matthew 6:33, 51
Jesus asks me the same thing. He asks me do I love Him. And of course my answer is yes. But He wants more than my words today. Because words are fickle. Actions are deep. So the real test of my love will be my deeds. For He wants me to act in love. Especially where my family is concerned. And for me that would mean slowing down. It would mean laying aside my overfilled schedule so I can be more purposeful about the thing it is I’m doing. It would mean transferring gravy from a cheap Teflon skillet to a scratched up, old white bowl. And actually putting it on the table alongside a pie tin of biscuits. It would mean being in the moment as I fill up smaller bowls with ladle after ladle of love. Like Mammie did. It was her act of love.
Yes, on the surface it looks like only sausage gravy. But really, it’s so much more. Because food can be the language of love. And I believe it’s true the stomach is the way to a man’s heart. For I’ve seen it. My brother would call Mammie begging for a bowl. And my cousin Andy would offer her five dollars if she’d just fix some biscuits & gravy. Just for him. That’s how good it was. It was treasured by all her grandkids. Yep, sausage gravy was surely part of Mammie’s love language.
Thing is, that’s just how Jesus got to my heart. The love language of food. I shared a meal with Him in that I filled up on the bread of life. Just breakfast, but so much more. And now, when He asks me if I love Him, I can answer with confidence. Yes Lord, I do! In fact, I love you more than biscuits & gravy. Even more so than Mammie’s. And you know, that’s really saying something.
Taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8