A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to our favorite garden for fall photos. I’ve been doing this since they could walk. We have a history of images all taken in this familiar setting, chronologically recording their monumental growth. But it’s not just any garden. It’s a quiet garden, a memorial garden. A place where people can come to remember the saints who have died.
We wander the stone path remarking periodically at the names and dates engraved beneath our feet. Some of the weathered stones hold the words to Psalms, or hymns. Others are blank, telling no story of their own, but for the damp hoof print of an early morning deer.
“Stand here, this light is perfect,” they hear me say. They turn and pose accordingly. Tilting and grinning just so. We are all old hat at this by now.
“Shhhh”, I remind them. “This is not a garden for wild romping”. This is a place to remember. A place to pray. A place to feast on the goodness of the promise of heaven.
It is also a place to grieve. A place for sitting still without rushing, and there seem to be so few spaces that invite both joy and sorrow in the same breath. We are more mindful, hidden here in the alley of trees, beside the small pond whose waters have caught countless tears, and a few pennies tossed with wishes attached.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
The world is aways willing to ask us to pay for that which we can have for free. God gives freely, abundantly.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Later that evening I watch the sun slip pink behind the blackening pines at the front of our neighborhood. From my regular post at the kitchen sink, I have a nightly view to whatever glory the sky holds in her last few moments before dark. I’ve already seen close to 547 sunsets since moving here nearly 2 years ago. The world has spun and spun without slowing. Our smaller world within these walls has whipped in steady revolution, each new day dawning ever-eager on the heels of the one before.
“Blessed, Blessed, Blessed.”
We’ve returned to familiar paths through gardens made of earth and stone, and we’ve made new paths through the hallways and up and down these stairs. I’ve walked miles around the kitchen island preparing small feasts for us and occasionally, for others. We live here, this rowdy communion of saints. We gather again and again around laundry baskets overflowing, and school room tables messy with work. We gather at the sink, elbows-deep in the suds. We gather in gardens, in driveways and in cars. We gather around tables and hover over hot bowls with grins spreading at the smoky aroma. Tonight, we gather around Taco soup. It’s not a fancy feast but it’s warm. It’s simple. It sustains. It is enough.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1-12)
- 2 lbs lean ground beef, (ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork)
- 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis (or plain diced tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup of salsa
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3TBSP Taco seasoning
- 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
- 4 cups of chicken or beef broth
- shredded cheese (for garnish)
- fresh cilantro (for garnish)
- sour cream (for garnish)
- tortilla strips/chips (for garnish)
- Brown ground meat in a skillet, with diced onions. Drain off fat.
- Add cooked ground meat with onions to crock pot.
- Add to crockpot, tomatoes (or Rotel), cream cheese, taco seasoning, salsa and broth.
- Set slow cooker to 4 or 6 hours setting.
- This recipe is easily adapted for the stovetop. If you don't have 4 hours, you can whip this up in under an hour on the stove. You can also tweak the ingredients to suit your tastes. Go meatless by adding in black beans or pinto beans instead, and using vegetable broth. Increase the heat in this soup by adding crushed red pepper or a dash of chili powder.