The Healing Powers of the Pot Roast
In the early part of November 2012, I experienced a profound moment of healing by spoon.
It functioned like salve on my weary mother’s soul – a bowl of pot roast made by my sweet mother-in-law.
She’d prepared the roast and its accompanying vegetables in her Crockpot the night before, the overnight simmering of soup and juices from the meat producing a scrumptious gravy that would have had world-class chefs swooning.
While the rest of my family was occupied in other spaces – the youngest of them splashing in a nearby hotel pool – I’d found a moment to steal away into the quiet of our dining room to eat what was left of the roast, most of which had been nearly completely devoured earlier by hungry men.
Sitting in the dimly-lit room, breathing deeply, slowly now, I prepared to consume the first homemade meal I’d had in months.
Comfort food, they call it, and this moment made it true for me. With each delectable bite, restoration was beginning.
For nearly a year I’d been trying to do the impossible, working outside the home with five kids still needing so much more of me than I could offer with my attention elsewhere.
But now, after weeks of discernment, I’d made the difficult decision to resign from what had seemed, by all accounts, my dream job. It would mean giving up a paycheck that had lightened our financial load but brought extra responsibilities that weighed down my heart, causing my middle child to utter one day, “You’re not a being a mom anymore.”
I’d done what I could to rearrange the pieces of my life to accommodate all, but came up short. The emotional, spiritual and even physical effects were manifesting themselves, and I had to ask myself whether the job was worth risking an illness that could remove me from life altogether.
Ironically, the kitchen, which I consider the heart of the home, was a room I avoided like the plague during that year. I knew that if I entered, I wouldn’t make it out without depleting the extra energy I needed to push through my busy days.
Fast food had become normal; my oven, a neglected appliance. The dining room was a place to linger only as long as was necessary to gulp down a slice of pizza or a burger.
But sitting before that bowl of real food made with loving hands, placed gently in a warmer and transported 120 miles to our home earlier that day, had reintroduced me to the place where my heart longed most to be.
A few days after leaving the job, I prepared my own slow-cooked meal, and as I scooped out portions to each family member, a surge of love and joy took hold. I was ready now to feed my family, both in food and through my presence in ways that had not been possible for far too long.
And in the midst of it, I became aware that if not for that wonderfully nourishing meal several weeks earlier, the moment would have passed unappreciated. In that gift of warm sustenance, I’d been given a poignant reminder that we cannot offer others something we haven’t first taken in ourselves.
In doing whatever is necessary to create space in our days to ensure we’re nourished, we’ll have something to offer back those we love. And they, in turn, will give to others when it’s time.
A potato, a carrot, a tender chunk of meat – the healing powers of the pot roast.
A bowl full of love that wooed me back to life.
. . .
Roxane Salonen lives in Fargo, N.D., with her husband and five children, ages seven to 17. A church cantor, book reader and coffee drinker, she also works as a faith columnist and features writer for her city’s daily newspaper.
Roxane is the author of two children’s picture books – First Salmon and P is for Peace Garden: A North Dakota Alphabet. Find her pondering on “faith, family and following the muse” at Peace Garden Mama: roxanesalonen.blogspot.com/