Ancient Paths

Snow days prompt me to bake, so this perpetual snow day, brought on by shelter-in-place requirements due to Corona virus, has upped my baking game to a new level. Baking is a source of contentment and comfort. I find myself searching through treasures for recipes. My treasures for this occasion are two tin boxes, both rusty on the edges-one more so than the other. Both were inherited from matriarchs now passed. The recipes, like their authors’s became, are now yellowed, frayed, bent, wrinkled. They were written in precise, identifiable hand, writing not yet tainted by too much technology and too little time. The recipes, for the most part, are simple, fitting for a time when using “what we had on hand” was more important than the trendier gluten-free or sugar-free types of today. Some are written on the backs of envelopes from businesses long since gone. Some are credited to relatives now gone also. Some are stained, and I smile wondering where the stain came from. Did a child bump you as you stirred ingredients? Did you lose your grip? Were you a messy cook like I am? The stains, spills, mistakes remind me that life is messy sometimes, but it can still be good. I think about the recipes that I remember helping with or eating. I remember smells, tastes, seeing familiar plates and people-my people. I marvel at the way memories are richly layered between letters on 3×5 cards, crumpled envelopes, backs of deposit slips.I think about the hands that carefully held a pen to copy ingredients and directions and remember how I carefully held those hands at the last just before they became forever stilled. These all-the recipes, the tin boxes, the stains, and the memories bring me comfort, especially in these unsettling times. I make them with pride, but sometimes I use more modern methods: a microwave, a Kitchen Aide, gadgets and such. I think of the prophet Jeremiah and how during his nation’s times of turmoil he was inspired to pen, “…see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will have rest for your souls”(Jer. 6:16). I pray I will do just that. I need rest for my soul. I need the path of life. I need the Lord’s direction so much more than following my own restless, rebellious path. I need the precise, identifiable handwriting of my Creator to give me directions for recipes that will nourish my soul and help me feed others. I need His ancient words, true treasure. Though I walk that ancient path in modern Nikes rather than ancient sandals, I know His way is the right way. There I find contentment. There I find comfort.

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