In my years of experience speaking with people in churches, mental institutions, jails-n-prisons, in shelters and on the streets, when I ask what they “remember most of home”, they recall the smells of home-cooked meals coming from the kitchen. I don’t claim it is the first thing everyone recalls, but I do claim that with the exception of (I think) two odd-balls, this memory makes the short list!
The memory of the smell of home-cooked meals in the kitchen is universal and powerfully symbolic.
(I took this photo of Ms. B in the scale-house at Tent City in 2011attempting to cook a home-made chicken soup over a waffle iron she had scavenged from a dumpster and tried to convert into a counter-top stove. (I am glad the Fire Marshall did not see it!) She was a resident of Tent City in the months shortly after it opened, and took the role of camp-mom, trying to feed all the other residents. It took her about six hours to get the soup hot, and it never came to a boil. But she cheerfully gave all she had to serve her fellow homeless sojourners with the two bits she had to give.)
I do not wish to belittle the work and ministry of those who put on a massive meal for the homeless on Thanxgiving Day. (Yes, it is a good photo-op for politicians and pastors. Yes, the need is still there afterward, though by Thursday night 85% of the volunteers are gone and won’t be back for a year. I know these things.) That work is important, and it reaches out to the mobs and masses on a very symbolic day. So, with that caveat, I want to commend all of those who help to host that feast! To them all, I say, Thanx!
But this year I have three little souls under my roof who cannot be at home due to neglect or abuse, or don’t have one anyway. Two are infants, and will not remember this day, but the other is old enough to carry this day to the grave. And either way, I want, and am so pleased to witness, smells from our kitchen telling these homeless children that they are HOME.
We started this holiday yesterday morning with bacon and pancakes and smiling faces gathered around our kitchen table passing syrup and cracking jokes. Then the older kids got busy making deserts for Thanxgiving Day. The place is a mess, but it is HOME in full-operation!
AND, of course, I am giving thanx to God, that in those homeless children, He has seen fit to take up residence with me. God came to my house! And yet, in that paradoxical way He has, kinda like when the disciples on the road to Emmaus took Him in and He quietly assumed the role of host as he blessed and broke the bread, I find that this home is not really my house, but it is transformed into the Temple of God. I have become the servant in the HOUSE of God, prepared for the Master’s Return!
Hallelujah! Thank YOU, Jesus! It is good to be HOME for the holidays.