1. Soup (with bread)
When I was traveling in the UK during college, the one thing I could count on was soup and bread. Sometimes it would be a hearty stew along with a hunk of crusty beer bread, other times, a delicate tomato soup with many slices of slender baguette. The flavors were usually simple, and they soothed my tired, homesick soul. To this day, nothing makes me feel quite as safe and cozy as a bowl of soup.
2. Being an ICOE
Recently, I got a text late at night. My best friend is pregnant and she was in pain and scared. I got up, threw on some clothes and took her to the emergency room so that her husband could stay with their sleeping children. All turned out well, but it was a night littered with fear, doubt and so much waiting. It was such a wondrous thing for me to be there “in case of emergency,” even when it seemed that there was nothing I could do but make her laugh and tell her the truth over and over again. Those times don’t always seem beautiful, but when I look closely enough, I can see them for what they are: bonds which cannot be broken.
I was a ballet dancer when I was young, twirling all in pink and leaping across the floor. Too soon, my knees got the best of me, and ballet became something that I watched. Recently, I have ventured back into dance. Nothing so disciplined as ballet, but a class that accepts me, weak knees and all, and still allows me to move and connect with myself, music, and God in a way that I have missed for too long. As I spin, leap and sway, I feel more myself, infinitely free.
4. Used Book Stores
There is something almost holy about these places. Almost immediately, when I enter, I am comforted by the smell of history and literature which has stood the test of time. I could spend hours finding new “friends,” running my fingers across familiar spines and trying to resist the temptation to purchase more than I can carry, all the while enjoying the hush and the juxtaposition of old and new.
I learned to pray young, pouring out the words of my heart to a God who loves me and knows me. I still love to do this. As an adult, I discovered liturgy and I fell in love with this way of praying, too. It makes the back of my neck tingle to think of all of the people joining with me, at that very moment, and throughout history in speaking these words of unity, praise, and confession toward God. It is at times like these that I really feel the cloud of witnesses surrounding me.