It was “all-hands-on-deck” this morning as Gerri and I teamed to whip up an apple pie from scratch.
Gerri assumed all the many “skill” positions of a pastry chef, of course…while I filled in with tasks too simple to screw up: peeling, stirring, clean-up. And it looks as if she has learned well the technique her mother taught her several decades ago.
Which is only fitting, I suppose, since the pie was baked for a family celebration of what would have been Mother’s 100th birthday later this week. She’s been gone now going on 18 years, but her reputation for baking very fine pies lives on in all of us who are fortunate enough to have known her.
Her crusts in particular were culinary works of art – flaky, crisp, and mouth-wateringly delicious, no matter what the filling…apple, peach, cherry. They were routinely excellent – a fact that impresses us in the next generation, who sometimes struggle with the execution of transcendent pastry, even when following Mother’s hand-written recipe to the letter.
It’s not just ingredients, in other words. It’s also technique. And as we put the finishing touches on our Centennial Pie this morning, Gerri and I both marveled at the fact that Mother typically worked her magic solo – without a sous-chef – even as she baked her way into her 80s.
Impressive work, my mother-in-law did – most of which she did almost anonymously. There may have been a time in her life when she entered pie-baking contests, but if so, I never heard tell of any awards or accolades. Of course, to focus on pies alone…is to risk trivializing the vast sum of her fruitful life’s work as a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.
How blessed we are when God brings such people into our lives! The Holy One’s tender love…and mercy…and skill…are all evident in the simple things these holy people do for us – day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Simple, selfless things…that help to usher in the Kingdom, by opening our eyes to God’s presence.
And so our joyful lips reply in gratitude, echoing the words we hear from Psalm 90 in Sunday’s liturgy:
Let your work be seen by your servants
and your glory by their children;
and may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
This reminds me of my own mom, also famous for her pies (and so much more). Her pies were requested by people on their death beds–a final bit of heaven on earth before the real deal. Did your mother-in-law use lard? Just curious; my mom always said it was the sine qua non of a flaky crust!