Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials
Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
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Guest Caterer Specials are side dishes that complement our main courses. The experiences of many spiritual seekers are forming a "cookbook for a sacred life" (Ram Dass' phrase). Might some special delicacy from this potluck meal become a staple at your table?Please sample our current Main Courses menu, as well as our tasty Desserts & Snacks and earlier dishes in the Soul Food Archive. And, do send your personal comments to our busy kitchen staff. View others' comments here.
To the Center: Recently, you had a Desserts & Snacks entry on Gratitude† with the simple idea of using a calendar to write down one thing to be thankful for at the end of each day. That's a good idea. I tried it, and because my kids had their art stuff all over the kitchen table, I soon found I was putting colors and doodles alongside the words. Before long, there were no words, and I ended up with just little sketches or symbols. Maybe you'd like to see a sample (I enclose a key, so you'll know what the heck the pictures mean):
|1-bumped into G by the lake
2-letter from home
3-new dawn over stalled work project
4-third day no new Iraq casualties
5-crazy day at work—survived!
6-memory of Grandma's chocolate chip cookies baked for me
when I was hurt
7-favorite old movie on t.v. (wanted to be Travolta)
| 8-SCARE! Near miss—kids in car
9-o.k. from doc to reduce meds
10-all feels balanced today
11-rain, much needed
12-we shop for drought-resistant plants for front yard
13-city council votes $$ for fire dept.
14-tornado loses speed, warnings dropped
As my calendar was on the kitchen wall, the whole family saw what I was doing and started to chime in (the children are 5, 8 and 12). And this was good, because it helped them think about what they were grateful for—but then they began arguing over what blessing was most important. Soon, we all had to have our own calendars.
One thing about using pictures instead of words: it takes more time. But, another thing is: that's good (for me) because it's more meditative—and if this is my evening prayer, that works. I had to get past the "I'm no artist" stuff and am learning to enjoy the process of thinking about symbols and also about which colors say what I want to say. Felt-tip markers are what we've been using, but maybe we'll explore some other things, like colored pens and pencils.
Just looking back over the 14 days I'm sending you makes me realize again how good God is, day after day. Probably nobody else would know what my squiggles mean, but I remember each one clearly—and I'm grateful. Thought you might want to hear my story.
† See Soul Food Archive: Desserts & Snacks, Spring 2010
Dear Colin, I like your idea, and it reminded me of a modern hieroglyphics. I hope you are keeping your back calendars, because that will be a legacy for you and your family in times to come. Maybe you would even leave the 'decoder' list so your grandkids would know what the heck you meant by this or that squiggle.
(off the coast of Washington)
* Credits for this page:
~ The quilts of American fiber artist Faith Ringgold hang in museums around the world. Harlem Renaissance Party, #2 in her "Bitternest Series," is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. Acryllic on canvas, 94"x82", it pictures eleven guests and their exuberant, mask-holding hostess, Cee Cee. From lower left around the table, the guests are Celia (or Ceclia), a doctor; Florence Mills, singer and comedienne; Aaron Douglass, painter; Meta Warick Fuller, sculptor; W.E.B. DuBois, organizer and writer; Cee Cee's husband, a dentist; Richard Wright, writer; Countee Cullen, poet, novelist and playwright; Zora Neal Hurston; novelist, folklorist and anthropologist; Alain Locke, philosopher and writer; Langston Hughes, poet and writer. Gratefully used with permission. See more of Faith's work at www.faithringgold.com.