Church and Comfort Food

10 07 2016

It’s a brutal time for my hometown, Baton Rouge, and the nation. I have felt shock, anger, fear and hopelessness. I don’t profess to have answers for all the problems of today. It’s been hard for me to find hope, but I felt it Sunday. I felt that glimmer of hope—of future possibility—in places that have been a part of my Sundays my whole life. I found hope in church and at Piccadilly.

Piccadilly

When I was a little girl, I did what many white families did after attending their Sunday service, we went to Piccadilly. Piccadilly is a Baton Rouge born cafeteria that specializes in southern-style, comfort food. As a child I was allowed to pick whatever I wanted; fried chicken, greens, deviled eggs, fried okra, cornbread and a slice of pecan pie. I learned the phrase, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” from a Piccadilly meal. Families would go in their Sunday-go-to meeting’ clothes and white gloved, black waiters would carry our trays to our table, while a black man played the piano.

As an adult, I have learned how lucky I was to be raised in white privilege.

After the horrific week that my city experienced I had a desperate need for comfort. My sweetie was raised Catholic, but I can bribe him to come with me to my church if I tell him we’re going to Piccadilly afterwards.

This Sunday may sound the same as the segregated southern town I grew up in, but a time traveler from 1966 who landed in 2016 would not recognize it. I drifted away from the Southern Baptist church I was raised in during my college years. As I got older, the answers it offered to life’s difficult questions, no longer made sense to me. I found the Unitarian Church when I was expecting my biracial daughter. Her father is Chinese and Buddhist and many of her cousins are Muslim. It was important to me to find a faith community that was not going to tell her that her father and family were going to Hell because they weren’t “saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, amen.”

What I didn’t know when I joined 26 years ago, was the church’s history of social activism. The Baton Rouge church began in the turbulent 60’s when bus boycotts and downtown riots were happening. It was always a church where blacks and whites could worship and strive toward justice together. This was an idea that was so threatening to some that in the 60’s the church was visited by the KKK and told to stop. But the church didn’t stop and we still come together to strive for a more just world more than 50 years later.

This is the church I attended Sunday to be uplifted. It’s my place to grieve the past week in sacred community. It’s a place to support the protestors and the cops. It’s a place where we try to envision a more just community. It’s a different kind of church than the one in which I was raised.

greens

After my spirit was comforted, I got my southern comfort food fix. I deluded myself into thinking I was eating healthy because I was just eating vegetables—cooked in butter and bacon—and I didn’t get that slice of pecan pie. We were in our Sunday best and I realized with a sip of sweet tea that Baton Rouge has changed since my childhood. As I savored the meal I realized the staff and patrons were a diverse group. Black and White and Hispanic and Asian working and eating side by side. We carry our own trays now and we break bread together too. This simple thing, a diverse gathering of people eating and working together would have been impossible to imagine 50 years ago. I do, however, miss the piano.

I’ve heard over and over this week that things are worse than ever. But I realized at church and at Piccadilly that they are not. What has changed is technology. Because of videos, smart phones and social media, we are now seeing for the first time what has been happening all along. Many still delude themselves and want to blame the victim. It’s hard to change what you believe to be true.

I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but I’m not naïve. I feel a glimmer of hope. We have moved forward. It’s a slow, painful and often brutal journey. As my minister said, I believe in a God that moves us towards justice. I have to believe that love and peace and justice will win the day.

 

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12 responses

10 07 2016
Lisa Garon Froman

Beautiful. I thought I might be reading a blog from you today. It is hard to put things into words…. I can’t right now. I started working on a poem because that is what I turn to when I can’t communicate things logically. As for losing/finding hope…I wrote about this last week after weeks of overwhelm (mostly from world news). Luckily, I found hope right in front of me, hidden in plain sight, and I am keeping her close. So close I am wearing her like a second skin and as long as I stay grounded and don’t let the media or haters herd my thinking, I will stay in balance. I am deeply sorry for the senseless killings of citizens and police officers and it is my deepest wish that positive change, healing and transformation will result from this chaos. XO

10 07 2016
conniemcleod

Lisa, I was moved by your post on hope. We are so often in the same space in our writing. I have been needing to write of this last week and I had no words. This came fast and furious and surprised me. It must have been the bacon fat from Piccadilly.

11 07 2016
tani

Thanks for saying that I inspired you because funny–I read and reread this as it’s so beautiful.
Your church sounds wonderful. Though I’m not Christian I would love to go to one like it for the solidarity.
I hope so much positive change can come from this.
After 7 years I’m still learning Southern and hope my friends here understand the spirit of my post and my feelings.
The collard greens look incredible as does the cornbread—I immediately turn to food—pictures and/or the real thing.
pia
http://courtingdestiny.com

11 07 2016
conniemcleod

Pia, the Unitarian Universalist tradition grew out of the Protestant reformation, but many do not identify as Christian. The church believes it’s your responsiiblity to find your own truth. I believe you would feel welcome. There’s probably one in your area, you should check it out.

11 07 2016
Carolyn Miller

Dang. I knew I missed something at church today.

11 07 2016
conniemcleod

It was a powerful service and just what i needed.

11 07 2016
Haralee

A lovely Post Connie. Yes we all need to hope for acceptance. My heart goes out to all women of color who have sons!

11 07 2016
conniemcleod

I agree Haralee. It hard for me to wrap my mind around that kind of fear.

11 07 2016
Thom Harris

Nicely put Connie. Great observations.

Thom

>

11 07 2016
conniemcleod

Thanks Thom.

11 07 2016
reciperenovator

Thank you… We all need to hold on to the hope while working towards change.

30 07 2016
Jen

Thank you for this post, Connie. It is good to know people of good conscience are searching for answers and finding comfort in community institutions and traditions. The “good ol’ days” were pretty terrible for many. The “privileged” were missing out on the great diversity of life and experiences that make life today so enriching.

My father recently passed this July 1st, just short of 88 years on the planet. I am reminded of a comment Geo. H. W. Bush made that he (HW) was getting ready to “check out” right on time. For those of us whose time has not come, my father’s secret to a long, vibrant and active life is the three B’s: Bacon, Butter and Beer!
Enjoy that comfort food.

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