Counterintuitive Love

I think we need to do nourishing things in these difficult days.

A Sunday morning snapshot of our locked-down life.

Three Sundays now away from church. This feels wrong.

We see the spire when we go out for a walk, but the doors are locked and we know that, so we don’t go close. It’s strange to think of it sitting there empty without us, like a drydocked boat, waiting for things to begin again. 

And yes, the church is not a building; it is a people but we’re away from the people, too. We talk on the phone and have online meetups with other families, and nothing feels the same. Of course, it doesn’t. This is entirely new and it’s hard not knowing how long this is going to last.

It is counterintuitive to stay away from people to show them they are loved. It feels upside-down to shut ourselves away to look after the world. We keep reminding ourselves that we’re doing this out of love. We’re trying to learn to be patient and loving.

But Sunday mornings are a stumbling block. Our congregation has been sharing a simplified online service, but with so much time spent looking at screens recently, it just didn’t feel like the right choice for our family so we decided to meet around the kitchen table instead. We asked the kids to each bring something beautiful for the table and the name of one person they’d like to pray for. Enter one porcelain mouse in a neatly painted blue pot, one enormous pinecone, and one favourite wooden domino set. We didn’t plan anything, just sat together and sang and read things we like and prayed and talked and thought about how to do and be church in these days. It felt strange and familiar and lovely.

When we finished, we had a toast feast with lots of butter and jam and that was lovely, too. Beangirl made a pot of tea and the boys dished out the milk and sugar. Everyone was patient.

And then we made sauerkraut. It was the eleven-year-old’s suggestion and a bit of an off-beat suggestion, but why not? 

Homemade joy
Sauerkraut is easy, at least it is the way we make it. Begin by washing your hands well, then thinly slice your cabbage (about 2 kilograms) then put it in a big bowl and sprinkle on the salt (about 3 tbsp). Wash your hands again and massage the sliced, salty cabbage for five minutes. Take a break. Massage the cabbage for another five minutes. It will relax and go a bit soggy. Then choose the flavourings – we chose caraway and juniper. After you stir them in, you cover the surface, weigh it down, and leave the cabbage to ferment. It’s tasty after about a week and keeps getting stronger after that, so you need to decide when you like it and then put a proper lid in it and put it in the fridge. 

I’m glad I said yes, when my son asked if we could make sauerkraut. Not your typical post-church activity, but we had cabbage and salt and I thought maybe it could be another lesson in patience or maybe just a bit of homemade joy we could make together. I think we need to do nourishing things in these difficult days. We’re all making this up as we go along and, in a time when we’re leaning on new technologies so much, it’s nice to relearn some old tricks, too.

  • Katie Munnik is an Ottawa writer living in Cardiff with her Spouse and three growing children.

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