Bay Window: Grace in a batch of biscuits - The Buffalo News
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Bay Window: Grace in a batch of biscuits

Do you know what it’s like to move freely through time, to see the past, present and future all at once, and sense a connection to all that’s gone before, all that is and is still yet to come?

Yes, I do mean without the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

When it happens in a church it’s called a sacrament – a baptism, communion or other religious ceremony – an outward symbol of an inner grace to remind us of the mystery that somehow we are all part of the circle of life.

It is a sacred and holy thing that isn’t limited to a church pew. It can happen any place, any time. But when it happens in a kitchen, it’s called a biscuit.

As a child, after my parents split apart, I fell into the chasm between them and found it hard to climb back out. Lucky for me, I had my grandmothers. They had spent their lives mending and patching and salvaging all sorts of things that were broken or tattered or torn.

They were good at it. And that is what they did for me, little by little, bit by bit, with stitches of love, scraps of hope and the bonding glue of belonging. They made me feel whole again.

One morning my dad’s mother taught me how to make biscuits. First we washed our hands. Next we gathered the makings: flour, buttermilk and lard. We stirred it up, patted it out and cut it in circles. I did most of the work, but she helped. I plopped them in her cast iron skillet and she slid them in the oven of the wood stove. Then came the hard part: We had to wait.

While we waited, she told me that she had made biscuits with her grandmother long ago and maybe someday, I’d make them with my grandchildren, too.

I laughed trying to picture it.

Finally, when the biscuits were golden brown, we took them out and split them open to slather them with her hand-churned butter and her homemade blackberry jam. She ate two. I ate four. They were good. I wish you could’ve tasted them.

A lifetime later, just last week, I spent a morning with Henry, my 2-year-old grandson, just the two of us.

On her way out the door to teach school, Henry’s mama grinned at me and said, “I bet Henry would love to help you make biscuits for breakfast!”

First we washed our hands. Then we gathered the makings. Henry peeled the wrapper off the can and I rapped it hard on the counter to pop it open.

He did most of the work, but I helped. He plopped them in the pan and I slid them in the oven. Then came the hard part. We had to wait.

It is anchored by the past and given wings by the future, but it is lived only in the present, in the awareness of each precious moment – in a light that gleams through a stained-glass window or the smell of biscuits baking in the oven or the sweet holy touch of a child’s hand on your face. Look. Can you see it?

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