Opening eyes from where I’m lying in bed, I analyze the rustic wood beams overhead, captivated by the contrast of dark wood against a white painted A-frame ceiling. Through the opening of a small, square window, I glimpse a bowl of blue sky. Assurance that the sun is shining and plans for a morning swim in the heated pool will materialize.
Bees buzz about the bedroom, a reminder that I am an expat living in England where screens on windows don’t exist. Their collective humming suggests the sweetness of honey and the dream I was having before the light awakened me.
“Pancakes!! I dreamt I was eating pancakes soaked in pure maple syrup,” I inform H, lying awake next to me. I can almost taste fluffy golden buttermilk pancakes drenched in melted butter and soaking in a sweet amber river.
In Dorset, on a rare summer getaway, the two of us are tucked away in a farmhouse, avoiding the alarm clock, cooking meals, and thinking about inboxes. The night before, from a gingerbread treehouse surrounded by a meticulously manicured flower garden, we watched deer graze quietly in an adjoining meadow. And thanked God for the beautiful abundance loaned to us by generous friends.
It’s July, when we normally make an annual pilgrimage to a family cottage in Canada. But this year, a bevy of excuses kept us closer to home.
We stumbled sleepily down a narrow winding stair case, pushed pieces of crusty artisan bread in the toaster and flipped on the kettle. Peanut butter toast chased by swallows of milky tea didn’t satisfy my expectant palette.
But the more I think about eating pancakes, the more I realize the dream I’m savoring isn’t about satisfying a craving as much as it is about digesting what the pancakes represent.
Pancakes symbolize love and belonging.
As a child, I learned about the true face of love through the rhythm of predictable weekend visits with my grandparents. From an unpredictable, insecure home life with a single mother struggling with poverty and alcoholism, to the predictable security of their home and loving embrace.
“Love resides in Grandpa’s morning rituals, his buckled shoes shuffling an impromptu tap dance on the tile floor the moment he spies me in the small pink nightgown drifting across the kitchen. He twirls a dancing spatula to make me laugh. And every Saturday, he flipped Hungry Jack pancakes on the griddle because he knew they were my favorite.” Rhythms of Rest, page 73
After I married and gave birth to two children, a rhythm of summer vacations to H’s family cottage in Canada provided a predictable pause from loneliness while living in the South. “H’s family cottage is the clasp holding six decades of Healey family history, and a reminder to all of us that we belong even when our accomplishments threaten to become our identity.” Rhythms of Rest, page 41
Blueberry buttermilk pancakes sputtering on the griddle, at least two times a week, are a mainstay of family vacations at the cottage. And that’s why I dreamt about pancakes while sleeping in Dorset.
We long for the taste of home while living as exiles for Jesus.When everything around us declares that life is unpredictable, changing, and not at all expected, our soul longs for what seems to be absent in the world: love and belonging.
Nearly three years ago, a few short weeks after moving into our terrace house in London, we welcomed our church staff to their first American pancake breakfast. Fluffy golden layers were gobbled up quickly though I noticed a curious difference while stacking dishes at the sink. Their plates weren’t swimming in maple syrup. But laughter is the same in all cultures.
From the US, my daughter sends a message on Facebook, asking for the family pancake recipe. She wants to make breakfast for a bevy of friends who slept over. Because pancakes for breakfast was her predictable childhood request — after every sleepover she hosted in her bedroom and every birthday breakfast we celebrated as a family.
Maybe you woke up this morning in a strange and curious place. Nothing about your life feels or looks familiar. Perhaps you have a craving for something intangible, nameless, and yet deeply personal.
Could it be that what you are longing for isn’t a faraway dream, memory relived, or an escape from life as you know it. Perhaps you’re hungry to hear what God is saying: You are loved, and you belong.
We arrive home from Dorset to our son preparing for a hike in the Cairngorms of Scotland. “How about some pancakes before you board the train?” I ask him with alacrity because the craving of maple mingling with buttermilk is still lingering.
“Sure, he says, that sounds great!”
Pancakes have become a kind of curious spiritual discipline; a reminder to myself and those I love that we are all exiles longing for home.
Do you have a favorite recipe that cultivates generous hospitality? I’m sharing mine with you today.
- 2 cups flour
- 5 T. sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Stir wet ingredients in separate bowl then combine with flour, sugar, soda, powder and salt.
- Stir gently until all ingredients are blended but don’t over stir.
- Fold in fresh blueberries or chocolate chips to the batter if desired.
- Cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with maple syrup.