Friends, this is something I wrote during Covid. We were about 2 months in, and I remember how hard it was to go about our normal lives. I didn’t really mind not going out, (staunch introvert here) but I was sad when we had to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, by handing over her favorite cake through the window at their house. I imagine many of us have profound memories of that time, possibly some good and some hard. What you’ll read is just how I wrote it in April 2020.

Sigh. Dear friends, I am longing for something different than this seemingly endless quarantine. Don’t get me wrong – I’m so grateful to those who work so hard for my protection. I am ashamed often that I do not even begin to understand the suffering others have experienced in this time in lost jobs, insecure futures, and even bread on the table.

But I miss the messy, tangible nature of our life together. I’m grateful that life can go on with Zoom meetings and parking lot church. I’m grateful for the technology we have to continue on in life. But l miss the everyday ordinariness of sports, of hugging my grandchildren; of teaching someone to tie their shoes (Nate’s finally got ahold of that one!) I miss matter.

If you are on social media these days, you are probably aware of how many people in quarantine have taken up bread baking. I wasn’t really aware of that when I thought – “hey, I have time, I’ll make bread.” But it took me several weeks to get flour and yeast (which is pretty much all you need). I haunted the King Arthur Flour website – I sent Nate to the grocery store with a mission- find flour! I did the same with my daughter – I even wrote emails. “Where’s the flour??” And when I finally had my flour and yeast, I took great satisfaction in baking and smelling and eating that bread!

 I’m not surprised at the sudden interest in baking – in times like these I think we long for the smells and the tastes of something real and homey and meaningful and even liturgical! Since my grandson Asher has been going to the Montessori school just down the road from me, I have picked him up at least one day a week to spend the afternoon together. We have a ritual. We watch Lego building videos, eat lunch, play with trains, or Legos, or whatever strikes his fancy. Lately he has been telling me that I smell like Lego videos. At first, I’m like, huh?? And then it hits me. He has associated a meaningful experience that we’ve had together with something sensory – smell. I bet we all have done that.

I remember walking into my grandmother’s house and smelling her home’s absolutely most unique smell! Was it her perfume or the scent of her shampoo? Was it the smell of something frying? Was it the metallic smell of rain on her eating porch? Yes. All that and more. And the time I spent with her was very much like the time I’ve spent with Asher these last months. It always had its own liturgy. By that I mean there was ritual: daily walks, summer meals outside on the porch, watching her stories (Soap operas) and licking green stamps! There was ceremony (the setting of the table, the blessing of the meal) and meaningful tangible contact with food – cold tomatoes from the garden with a bit of mayo and salt and pepper; fresh cantaloupe, and fried chicken that marinated in buttermilk all day. There was milk of magnesia (ugh) and prayers at night; there were hours I spent reading – and just being with her – the safest adult in my life for most of my childhood.

We need the tastes of home – we need the smells of bread rising and baking, we need the smells of Lego videos (what that is I cannot begin to say). And Jesus understood this. He knew we didn’t need manifestations, or “appearances”. He did not despise matter – he blessed it – He blessed and broke and gave – in the Incarnation, in His death (a real body suffering and dying for us) and in His Resurrection.

Aren’t you glad that Scripture tells us about Resurrection meals? There are at least two accounts of meals taken with Jesus after the Resurrection. These stories are so important! I love them both. The one in Luke is about a meal at the end of a journey (Lk 24:13-35). The other is in John, chapter 21 and is about breakfast by the sea (a great name for a bed and breakfast/retreat center, eh?)

The passage in Luke is about a journey two men take. Cleopas, a disciple, and his friend (we are not told who he is) are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They are discouraged and confused, and they begin talking about recent events. Soon they are joined by a third man, unknown to them. He asks them what they are talking about, and they are astonished he hasn’t heard anything about Jesus. They open up to him, and then he begins to share the Scriptures with them and how these Scriptures had predicted all that they had experienced with the man, Jesus. They reach the end of their journey, and they entreat this stranger to stay and have supper with them.

He walked with them as an Old Testament scholar, and now at table He becomes their host. He blessed and broke and gave them not just their supper but a profound revelation of who He was and who He is. And in that blessing of the meal, the disciples recognized their Lord.

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?”

Luke 23:32

These two actions were critical post Resurrection – He revealed himself as the Christ both in spirit (or in text) and in matter (body).

I am thankful for Resurrection meals. I miss the shared smells and taste and touches of Christian community. It has been a while since I’ve been eager for church potlucks. I don’t like lines, and I am frustrated when the food has been picked over, but I’ve concluded that Christ is revealed to us in a unique way when we share our bread. If any good comes from this quarantine (and of course there will be), I hope it is that we can look for Jesus in the material stuff of our lives. And yes, I am grateful, in fact, eternally grateful that Christ comes to us in the bread and in the cup. And right now, I would have to say that the best compliment I have received in a long time is that I smell like Lego videos.

*picture taken from one of my favorite children’s books, Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes.