A Recipe for Loss
"Is it just me, or is it difficult to write about celebs and food considering the shoooting?" wrote my fellow washingtonpost.com blogger Liz Kelly, in an e-mail early this morning.
She of course was referring to the mass shooting that left 33 people dead (including the gunman) on the campus of Virginia Tech yesterday.
When just one person dies at the hand of another, it is undoubtedly tragic and senseless, an unbearable loss for those who survive the departed, but nonetheless contained. With our information superhighway, we hear about someone getting killed every hour, every day, everywhere, and so we've become conditioned, almost numb to the news of a garden-variety homicide.
But something happens when we learn of multiple casualties -- be it an accident or an act of terror, war or God. Death in numbers is horrific and unfathomable, and the mourning and sense of loss goes beyond the obvious front line of survivors; it affects us all. We feel sad because what happened yesterday is an act against humanity, an act that could befall any one of us.
And so I return to Liz's initial question: Is it difficult to write about light fare when all that's on the menu is collective sorrow and grief? Yes, it is difficult. But that doesn't mean it's irrelevant or less important.
In times of great sorrow, we not only need levity to get us through , but we need a reason to believe in the beauty and sanctity of life. We will need a break from the headlines, and we will need to eat and rest, and nourish ourselves, in body and soul.
That means I ain't going nowhere. We all gotta eat -- and we really should be checking in on those who may need an extra hand and shoulder or supper.
For a moment, close your eyes and think of the last time you ate at home with people you loved, not counting holidays. If it's been too long, make a few calls and start drafting a menu of your favorite comfort foods. Invite some folks over tonight or this weekend. Call a neighbor and drop off a tray of mac and cheese or a container of soup.
I promise you that no one will say, "I'm too busy for a plate of love and kindness." And your outreach undoubtedly will have a ripple effect.
Food, when shared, is an anchor and a bridge. It connects little-known acquaintances that become a family of friends, a world of villages. A shared meal allows us to forget about the tears and to allow our broken hearts to heal, even if temporarily. The physical act of sustenance grounds us and keeps the engine running, and the spiritual sustenance can inspire us to do good unto others.
So, if you've been helplessly wringing your hands like so many I know, get thee into the kitchen. Crank up the oven, and pull out the mixing bowls. There's cooking to be done; the world is counting on you.
Talk to me at noon, for this week's edition of What's Cooking.
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