Saturday, 11 April 2015

Soup Pot Prayers

Last week -- the week before Easter -- is named Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Holy: “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.” It is traditionally celebrated as a reflective time, with extra services and lots of emphasis on prayer, meditation, and silence.

Not so much at the Schut house, however. It was anything but quiet. Instead of prayer, I was making beds and doing laundry; instead of meditation, I was grocery shopping; instead of reflecting on the state of my soul, we were doing the numerous jobs that crop up in preparation for a family get-together. Yes, they all came home for the Easter weekend. The official reason was the baptism of the youngest Schut, our little Gracie, but any occasion to celebrate something with your family is worth grabbing.

Instead of silence, the house was filled with a cacophony of noise: the clattering of legos, the chattering of voices, the clanging of pots and pans and the fridge door opening and closing, the discordant sounds of video games and mutters and cheers of the players playing them. Anything but quiet, reflective, meditative, and prayerful.

We did all the usual things: cooking meals for 15, hanging around the kitchen island eating appies while waiting for supper, snuggling with the kids;  walking by the river, taking lots of pictures, playing games and more games. And we celebrated Easter by witnessing Gracie’s baptism. She was wearing the baptism gown worn by her great-grandfather almost 100 years ago. She was welcomed by the children of the church, who laid their hands on her and told her “You belong to God, and you belong to our big family, too. Welcome!”

Sunday evening, before the mainlanders had to leave, we had soup for supper.
At our home, every pot of soup, like every family gathering, is different. You start with some fresh ingredients: celery, onions, carrots, herbs, broth and perhaps a package or two of soup mix. But after that, it’s time to clean out the fridge, throwing in memories of the other meals we’ve had: leftover hash browns and vegetables; leftover chili; half a bag of coleslaw mix; some sausage; and the leftover soup from Friday lunch. When the pot is full, the soup bubbles and simmers for a bit and we all dig in. By the time supper is over, however, most of the soup is gone, leaving – what else! – leftover leftover soup for our lunch on Monday.

And now, as we once more subside into a more restful, less stimulating life, we have the time to be quiet, meditative, and reflective. During “Holy Week”, I sometimes felt guilty. I was not praying like I “ought to.” But the week was Holy, nonetheless, for it was a sacred time. Instead of praying in dedicated quiet times, I was praying soup-pot prayers, throwing my concerns, my joys and anxieties, my momentary irritations (you can’t get through a family gathering without some discord, after all), my requests and blessings into a broth of deeply-felt gratitude.

I’ve read somewhere that we all, from the hardened atheist to the most devout religious person, pray. When we pray, we are sending out messages into the Great Unknown – messages like, "Help! Thanks! Wow!"* Oops! Sorry! Please! Why? and What Was That all About? Sometimes our prayers are cries, sometimes they are formal and worshipful, sometimes they are soup-pot prayers.

I’m not always sure whether I’m praying the way I ought when I converse with the Great Unknown, whose name to me is God. Then I remember, “Pray the way you are, not the way you ought,” and so this week, I offer my soup pot prayers and know they will find a good home in the heart of the Divine.


*Help, Thanks, Wow is the title of a book written by Anne Lamott. She names these expressions as the Essential Prayers we need to get through life. Here's a quote from the book:  "So prayer is our sometimes real selves trying to communicate with the Real, with Truth, with the Light. It is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by a light and warmth in the world, instead of darkness and cold."

PS: Probably no posts for the next two weeks as I'm travelling.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I really enjoyed your post
    I wish you and Rd a super trin