Today, a story about dessert. In other words, a story with a happy ending.
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We’re not up to dessert yet. My dear cousin is a Lutheran pastor in Portland, Oregon (Bethel Lutheran Church, bethelpdx.org). When we spoke by phone yesterday I noted that I’d been feeling – among a host of feelings – the need to strike an upbeat tone in the midst of everything. He said, “Upbeat? Who in the world expects you to be upbeat? Either you’re anxious and afraid or you’re in denial!” Helpful, that, and not surprising given the source, as my cousin has been a pastor for nearly 40 years. We’re absolutely called to be encouraging, supportive, and comforting. We’re called to help one another as best we can. We’re called to find humor where humor may be found. Upbeat?
As noted, it’s possible for a Christian to feel more than one thing at a time. Negative emotions don’t cancel out positive emotions; they don’t mean that your faith is false or useless. But they can be overwhelming. They can leave us feeling stuck and helpless. We can avoid getting overwhelmed and helpless by bringing things to prayer and by reaching out to people we can trust. And we can breathe. Remember breathing? Highly recommended. You might even go outside (OUTSIDE? ARE YOU CRAZY?) and breathe for a few minutes in the beautiful sunshine under God’s blue sky.
So, dessert. In their later years my grandfather and grandmother lived in a turquoise single-wide trailer (not for them “mobile home” or some such euphemism; it was “the trailer”) in a tree-shaded trailer park in Tucson, Arizona. The trailer park was a happy and friendly place. The turquoise single-wide was warm and homey. Its (It’s = it is; thank you, S’ter.) little kitchen had everything you’d need in a kitchen, including a cupboard over the wall-mounted oven. Which is where this story begins and might have – in another universe – ended. You see, Grandpa’s favorite dessert was tapioca pudding. He’d put up with cake and he liked pie, but he loved tapioca pudding. Except that Grandma, bless her heart and loving and comfortable grandmother that she was, refused to make it. She never said why. In fact I don’t think I ever heard her say the word tapioca, although she may have used it privately as an epithet. She’d make cake and she’d make pie and she’d happily boil canned peas until they were but shadows of their former selves, but it was ixnay on the tapioca uddingpay.
Did any of that deter Grandpa? No. We’d go to the grocery store without Grandma and he’d throw a box or two of tapioca pudding in the basket and say, “Let’s get some tapioca pudding and see if Grandma will make it for us.” Grandpa was a man who lived in hope. And the cupboard over the wall-mounted oven served as the repository – or graveyard – for his tapioca-pudding-related hopes, for it was chucky-chock filled to bursting with unopened boxes of tapioca pudding. To no avail. Regarding tapioca pudding, Grandma was not to be moved.
End of story? Not at all, because here’s the thing: Grandpa never once complained about or even mentioned the state of things at his house regarding tapioca pudding. Nonetheless, and over time, other members of the family figured things out and stepped into the breach. Especially Grandpa’s various daughters-in-law, who came to understand bowls of tapioca pudding as a sure way to Grandpa’s heart and an equally sure way to – and here you’ll pardon my being blunt – stick it to Grandma.
That’s a funny thing about hope: It may need to find a new pathway, but it will find a pathway, because hope does not disappoint. Today and every day, let us be sources of hope for one another. And whatever your favorite dessert, know that you are loved.
A BIT MORE BY WAY OF A WORD TO THE WISE:
The scam that’s been around for the better part of a year is still around. Be assured that I will NEVER ask you to purchase a gift card (i-Tunes or otherwise) for me or on my behalf. If you receive such a request via text or email or letter or carrier pigeon, it’s not from me. Please ignore it. And while we’re on topic, scamming is as unhelpful – as in poisonous – as hoarding sanitizer or wipes or rubbing alcohol or paper towels or hydroxychloroquine sulfate. For heaven’s sake.