An unlikely intersection of food, church, and diversity
Sunday, my husband made the most delicious pancakes. He used a new ingredient, seltzer water, and added it to the mix. The pancakes came out moist and fluffy, and I drenched mine in maple syrup and a pat of butter. Everything melted and ran together, and as I ate bite by bite, layers of pancake pieces stacked on my fork, I was in pancake heaven.
It was a bright February day in New England. Church service had ended and we were exiting the church’s sanctuary along with a diverse crowd of people. We talked about what to eat for lunch, and decided to get our grocery shopping done and buy some pancake mix at the store.
The midday sunshine poured in through the large windows on the second floor lobby of our non-denominational Christian church.
As we walked through the crowd, I spotted rainbows.
In front of me was an older, interracial couple holding hands. Teenagers gathered in a nearby corner, chatting and bouncing with energy. A white mom gently guided her mixed race children down the stairs.
Everywhere, I saw young, old, tattooed, preppy, Rastafarian, artistic, plain-clothed, infant, teenage, middle-aged churchgoers. I observed friends walking arm in arm, and an assortment of Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, and Middle-eastern families.
We were individuals, each of us unique, blending together in collective worship of God: singing, praying, talking, opening up, and shining outwardly towards each other.
The sunlight sparkled in a crystal chandelier suspended from the ceiling of the second-floor lobby. My first thought was, “What is a crystal chandelier doing in our church?” But at this moment, it really worked.
The twinkling crystals threw rainbows of all shapes and sizes onto the wall alongside the large windows, and dashed them across the carpeted floor.
“OOOH!” I squealed, ever a fan of rainbows and things sparkly and wonderful.
Holding hands, my hubby and I walked through a flock of people over to the rainbow infusion. I wanted to be inside of it, and I wanted to feel a rainbow inside of me.
I placed the back of my hand under a ray of rainbow light, and looked at the colors appearing on the back of my hand. I saw red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet blurring together.
I took pictures of the carpet rainbows on my iPhone, desperate to capture and preserve the moment’s beauty.
Then I put my phone away. We walked over to the large windows, and I closed my eyes. I felt the warmth of the sun stretch across my whole face.
“Remember the rainbow from yesterday?” My husband asked, referring to a double rainbow we had seen at home the day before. It was glowing neon against a stormy sky.
“Yes,” I said, nodding. “That was so cool.”
After a rainy night, this rainbow had appeared the next morning.
My husband had noticed it, and we went outside to get a better view. I took a picture of him wearing his jeans and his comfy Superman t-shirt, pointing towards it, arms reaching high and wide, a relaxed and happy smile on his face. The rainbow arched above the houses and buildings in our neighborhood. The puddles in the parking lot reflected light.
As we made our way downstairs, we stopped to talk to various friends and people we knew. Little children darted by us, scurrying around our feet, chasing one another and laughing. Everywhere, clusters of people gathered, talked, and embraced.
My heart stirred. I was so happy to be a part of this vibrant and authentic community.
I’m almost six months pregnant, and I was tired and hungry, and a little bit light headed as we drove to the grocery store to get the pancake mix. While we parked, I asked my hubby if he wouldn’t mind doing the shopping while I waited in the car, and he lovingly agreed.
Fast-moving cotton ball clouds rolled across a blue sky. It was brisk so I kept the windows up. I pulled Twitter up on my iPhone and scrolled through my homepage, reading, liking, and re-tweeting posts while I waited in the warm sunshine inside the car.
At home, we parked in the lot next to our apartment building where I had photographed my hubby standing under the double rainbow the day before. I climbed out of the car and walked around to the trunk where he was unloading groceries.
To my total surprise and delight, he pulled out a big bouquet of fresh rainbow flowers and presented it to me.
“Cakes!” I shouted, smiling. That’s my pet name for him.
It was beautiful. The bouquet contained yellow sunflowers, pale pink roses, bright pink and white lilies, purple and red flowers, white baby’s breath, and various greenery wrapped in a bright orange cloth.
I kissed my husband and stood there smelling the roses and lilies, cradling the big bouquet in my arms while he picked up the grocery bags and closed the trunk with a satisfying “thump.”
Once inside, I leashed up our two dogs and took them for a short walk while he cooked the pancakes.
When I got back, the kitchen was a little smoky from the hot grease on the pancake pan, but the windows were open to a refreshing breeze. I fed the dogs their lunch, then sat down in the living room to eat my batch of pancakes while my husband finished cooking his.
Usually we eat together, but I was so hungry I started early. I clasped my hands together and bowed my head and said a little prayer to God. I was thankful for my husband, for the nourishing pancakes I was about to enjoy, for our growing baby, for our dogs, for our church community, and for the fresh bouquet of flowers.
I felt a rainbow touch down inside of me.
I ate noisily and happily.