Just home from general tintabulation.
Here’s the tintabulation-invite my husband Greg sent out this week:
In preparation for today’s Feast, Concilia and Severino came to our kitchen yesterday and cooked delicious beans and rice.
For four years Concilia and Severino have been growing haricots in their garden in our backyard. (Severino and I speak to each other, as best we can, in French. He is patient with my efforts.) It was so good to finally taste the fruit of their harvest. Tonight, a man who, like Concilia and Severino, is originally for East Africa took a bite of beans and rice, and said, “This tastes like home.”
Last night, Greg and I also cooked tamales. Leah Samuelson and Laricia Hawkins showed up with bags of corn husks, tins of pork and chicken, garlic, onions, peppers, and tubs of masa, and we mixed up the fixings. Then Jeremy Botts and his family joined us to assemble the tamales.
That’s when there was a power outage and the house went dark.
For some time we prepared tamales by candlelight and firelight, and then the lights came back on, and we did a much less sloppy, and also less romantic job. We steamed tamales until the early hours of the morning–over a hundred total, I believe.
I feasted today with the man and woman, the parents of Greg’s student, who’d lost their home in the tornado that recently struck Washington, Illinois. Our table was made from a piece of round wood—I wonder what it once was; perhaps the top of one of those immense spools that hold cable? The rest of whatever it once was had been blown to bits, so hard to tell.
There were close to ten such tables in the gallery all around. The couple recognized the table beside ours–it was once the door to their basement. Their door door had a little door inset in it, for their cat. Their cat had passed through that little door to descend to safety during the tornado. Their cat, and their dog, too, and all their children and grandchildren are safe and sound. They hope to have their home back in a year, but things are going slowly, with the insurance and the bitter weather.
The man and the woman spoke with gratitude of life and health and safety and happiness. “This will be hard to describe,” the woman said, smiling as her husband and daughter danced by beating on drums. (I imagine much of her life is hard to describe right now.) Her daughter wore a majorette’s hat adorned with a bright flash of yellow feathers. Just days ago they’d stood in their ruined house, surrounded by the rubble of their neighborhood. Now we all sang together, and feasted, while outside a sudden winter storm rolled in. As bitter wind pressed against the window panes, the woman said, “All I pray for now is to feel God’s presence. GGod’s presence all around.”