Chili that warms the soul
No recipe involving food today, but a recipe for the soul. When you are annoyed that your $2,500 stainless steel refrigerator will only spit out ice chips instead of the cubes it is obviously supposed to provide or when the third heavy snow of the season is about to rip the gutter off the front of your house, take a trip to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for Church in the Yard. It will cure what ails you.
Church in the Yard takes place every Sunday. The congregants are the homeless. During inclement weather, services take place in the social hall and the priest cleverly replaces the wine, the normal occurrence in the Episcopal church, with grape juice for obvious reasons. After services, various churches provide a meal. You don’t have to ring the dinner bell twice at my church, St. Paul’s, to round up a gaggle of cooks eager to make massive quantities of food. It’s in our genes. So a gaggle of us did show up yesterday to make giant vats of chili, pans of cornbread, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for snacking later on to take to Trinity.
About 200 people showed up for Church in the Yard. Some of them may find solace in the service. Many are obviously there because it is cold outside and they are hungry. That’s OK. If you’re a fisher of people there’s nothing wrong with luring them close to the boat with a bowl of chili topped with sour cream and shredded cheese. You may be surprised at the social discourse that takes place during the meal. If you are ever around homeless people who are not asleep in a doorway or begging for money you will find out that most of them are just like you and me. They just made a terrible misstep somewhere along the way. Most of them are literate and bright and conversational. They like hot sauce in their chili. Just like me. And they crumble saltines on top. Just like me. And they observed good Episcopal rules of etiquette, thanking us profusely after a second or third bowl which, of course, just made the cooks giddy with excitement. And then they walked out, a couple of sandwiches tucked in their pockets, to the gray, cold day.
The chili was good. I would be happy to serve it at any potluck supper. But here’s the thing. What you are doing, which is a privilege, really hits home when you walk back through the door of your house. Which is warm and cozy. There is a refrigerator with food in it. You don’t really mind about the ice maker any more. And, if it’s close enough to five o’clock you will not feel guilty having a Bloody Mary, which I am doing as I write. Yes, the chili warmed the soul. Mine.