sweet potatoes and the resurrection
I sat down today and peeled six sweet potatoes. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to peel potatoes. I’m a multi-tasker, so this job is usually done standing over the sink while I stir a pot on the stove with my foot. However, I had been standing up all morning while preparing our traditional holiday dishes, so I decided to sit my pregnant self down and peel away.
Within about thirty seconds of peeling and sitting, I felt this wave of peace completely wash over me. It felt as if every little strip of potato skin that I peeled away was accompanied by a little piece of stress as well. My mind was clear, my spirit was peaceful, and my hands were at work while my heart rested.
As I peeled, my imagination was instantly transported to my grandparents house in Mississippi, where peeling potatoes and shelling peas and pecans is a daily form of entertainment. My thoughts then turned to my great-grandparents and what life must have looked like for them, a lifestyle that would finish breakfast and then promptly begin preparing for lunch and supper. So much hard work and love must have gone into preparing every bite of food.
At one point I said to Joe, “People must have had incredible prayer lives back then.” “Why is that?”, he asked. “Because all I feel like doing right now is peeling these potatoes and talking to the Lord.”
So that is exactly what I did.
I began to thank the Lord for the people who will be eating my mother’s delicious Sweet Potato Casserole tomorrow at our Easter dinner. Their faces came to mind and I was filled with gratitude for friendship and family and recipes and a reason to come together and celebrate in the first place.
I thanked God for the brown sugar and the cinnamon and the buttermilk and the pecans, all the necessary ingredients to turn these raw sweet potatoes into a reason to worship (as if sweet potatoes by themselves aren’t reason enough to worship!).
I thanked God for the generations of potato peelers in my family who have passed on their recipes.
I thanked God for my husband who will most likely eat three servings of these potatoes tomorrow.
I thanked God for the baby who was kicking in my belly as I sat and peeled.
I thanked God for my toddler in the next room who, if awake, would have been digging the potato peels out of the trash can.
And then I thanked God that he was napping.
In the middle of all my thankfulness, God gently reminded me, tomorrow is why I can give thanks today. Cinnamon and sweet potatoes and friendship and family would mean nothing without Easter.
On this day, thousands of years ago, Christ’s disciples must have felt so much fear and despair, but only because they didn’t yet have what we will be celebrating tomorrow. A risen Lord.
The resurrection takes a ground-up cinnamon stick and gives it meaning, and it takes a heart of stone and causes it to worship the living God for sweet potatoes.
I finished all my peeling and chopping and then tossed the potatoes into the boiling water, but the worship didn’t end. Thank you, Father, for raising your Son from the dead!
I might not ever stand up to peel potatoes again.