Love in a Bean Soup

It was bean soup I was making, cannellini bean made from scratch.  The beans had been soaking all night, and were now cooked perfectly (sometimes a challenge for me, getting them just right), salted and ready for soup.

kale-and-white-bean-soupInto my ancient cast iron pot I started with the bacon, just a few pieces for the flavor and the fat for sautéing the vegetables.  Then came the leeks and onions, stirred until they sweetened and softened.  Next came the celery and red pepper for color.  Finally, carrots, lots and lots of carrots, and a dash of chopped garlic.

Out in the living room, my daughter sat, phone in hand, texting to friends.  We’d had another one of our strange strained encounters.  Perhaps you know the ones, where you try, almost in desperation to find a topic you can share.  It doesn’t really matter what you talk about, only that there is a chance to connect with them a little bit.  Unfortunately, I’m not always the best conversationalist as you will see. I started out with great cheer, “How are you these days?”

Her response, “How do you want me to answer that?”  Ok, maybe that was not a good question to ask.  I then ran through a repertoire of other questions, each one feeling more forced than the last.  Somehow I had this sense there was something I was supposed to guess or understand about her situation that I had not yet found.  Finally, in desperation I asked her outright, “What is it you want me to ask?”

 Boom! The door slammed shut.  She looked at me with a painted smile and turned away. “I’m fine mom, fine.” Saddened, I walked away. 

 This is the scene I recalled as I prepare my soup.  I stir in the softened vegetables, adding the broth and herbs:  oregano fresh from the garden, parsley and basil, more salt and pepper.  Finally I slide in those  beans.  And as I’m stirring and tasting, my thoughts keep turning back to my daughter and the ache in my heart that I am so often at a loss as to how to connect with her.  But as I stir and the scent of the soup grows stronger, it comes to me … that I can love her with this soup.

With every stir of spoon, and splash of spice, I can pour my love into this soup.  As I taste the evolving flavors, I imagine her eating this soup.  And as she does, my love will warm her insides, and fortify her body.  My love will swim all up inside her, hugging her close, bestowing her with kisses, even if she does not hear the words. 

And so I stir and love as she sits in the living room texting, the wall between us thick and high.

Later that night after two bowls, she heads off to bed and takes a moment to say, “Good soup, mom.  Thanks.”  I hold those words close to my heart.

So here is the most wondrous thing, the next morning we sat on the couch drinking our coffee, when she opened up of her own accord.  She shared about her week, the frustrations she felt at work.  She spoke of friends moving away and feeling isolated where she lived. The conversation flowed easily, effortlessly.  Her sharing, my sharing, a sweet

Who knows the reason for this shift.  Maybe it was a good night’s sleep and how things are softer in the morning.  Maybe it was me not trying so hard, and her need for a kind shoulder.

And maybe, it was the magic of a soup infused with so much love – me in the making of it, her in the eating, that somehow softened defenses, cleared the illusion of obstacles we sometimes create.  Maybe in the sharing of that soup sits the possibility that love can be given and accepted without a word at all.

 Tonight I’m thinking about spaghetti squash with a marinara sauce, maybe a dash of wine…


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