"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

She left early this afternoon for work, asking me to do something with the strawberries.

I had forgotten about them, . . .

Carefully picked out at the grocery store, . . .

Waiting on the refrigerator shelf . . .

For me.

In the midst of rearranging my closet and young ones begging to go to the library, I thought of the strawberries.

I have to do something with the strawberries.

The counter was dirty.

This wasn't a surprise.  The counter is almost always dirty.

That's life.

Nothing ever stays clean.

I pulled out my favorite cleaning solution (a spray bottle of bleach) . . .

And the paper towels.

After pausing to admire my work, I went searching.

The large glass bowl was where it always is - behind the cupboard door.

I carefully extracted it and placed it on my newly cleaned counter.

Then I went to the refrigerator.

I found them where I expected to find them - on the shelf, one box on top of the other.

They soon found themselves on the counter.

Then I went after my favorite knife - the little one that fits so nicely into my hand, so easy to slice with (without hurting myself).

It was in the drawer, where it almost always is.

I placed it on top of my neatly stacked strawberry boxes.

I turned on the water and washed my hands.

Then I opened a box and ran it under the flow, hoping to wash a little of the dirt away.

I placed the now-wet box on the counter and began to remove the berries, one at a time.

I ran each one under the water while I gently rubbed.

I pierced the flesh of each with my knife, removing the remnants of the green and leafy plant.

I cut into quarters, cut quarters into slices, and dropped slices into the glass bowl.

Over, . . .

And over, . . .

And over again.

As the green parts and white flesh gathered in the sink, I asked the little ones to grab the camera and capture the moments, . . .

The simple moments.

I don't get to prepare food as much as I used to . . .

Or as much as I'd like to.

Maybe the rarity of these moments -

This cutting,

This slicing,

This dropping of fruit bits into a glass bowl -

Makes me appreciate them all the more.

Children played with camera, photographing everything, from the strawberries to the trees to me with my hair beginning to fall out of my braid.

So often we use cameras to capture the "special moments", moments that we believe will never come again:

The vacations,

The graduations,

The birthdays,

The anniversaries.

We don't usually stop to think that maybe this moment is special, too.

Maybe this everyday cutting of berries is just as precious as an annual celebration of a person's life.

Maybe these everyday family moments are just as important as - or more important than - the special trips, vacations, and getaways.

I savored each moment spent cutting those red-and-white berries,

Dropping the bits of varying sizes into the glass bowl.

I think I enjoy this, this simple doing, this everyday work, this standing in the kitchen with giggling little ones, this being.

I think I was right when I said last year that (hypothetically), given the choice, I would rather be a stay-at-home mom than a mom who goes off to work, has a job, sacrifices time to provide money -

Not that working is bad or wrong, just that I think I would be happier in a kitchen than in an office, reading books on a couch than reading emails on a computer, . . .

I realize that, being a full-time mom, I would probably get fed up sometimes (or often) with the constant messes, the constant annoyances, the lack of time, . . .

But I still think that, overall, I could be so happy here.

Here, with my hands hinting red.

Here, with water flowing down.

Here, with cutting and slicing and dropping.

Here, with family and joy.

Here, with the anticipation of placing hard work on top of golden round cakes and burying under a mountain of whipped topping.


I finish my task, knife and hands still hinting red, . . .

Plastic boxes, still wet but now missing their contents, . . .

Glass bowl still not full, but not empty, either . . .

And think that, soon, people can enjoy this - the product of the simple work I enjoyed.

I write and pray my thanks for these simple moments and their digital capture.

As I continue filling in for she who left, driving little (and little-ish) ones to the library, carrying armfuls of books all over the place, helping the youngest sign up for a summer reading program, sitting and enjoying the reading moments at home, listening to pages turning and turning pages of my own, cutting meat, dumping sauce, laying out bread, covering with butter spray and garlic, I continue writing little thanks for little gifts.

I pour out milk, set down forks, and pray over hot, delicious-smelling spaghetti and garlic bread.

I listen as they talk and laugh, sometimes getting a little too silly.

When my plate is empty, I open the refrigerator door and begin pulling more blessings out.

I grab a bowl and place a cake in the bottom.

I peel back saran wrap and spoon the strawberry bits I labored over.

I open the container's lid and scoop creamy white on top.

I replace, sit, and bite, giving thanks for this summertime dessert.

Thank You for strawberry shortcake.

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