Five things Friday roundup: springtime reflections

African man wearing white chef's hat scooping ice cream into a bowl. Peace Mennonite Church homemade ice cream booth. — Leann Augsburger

1. Homemade Ice Cream.

Our booth will serve a couple hundred dishes of vanilla this Saturday, May 20,  at the Southern California MCC Festival and Relief Sale. The long row of food booths draws people into queues of people tearing apart their tickets, hugging each other and talking in Spanish, Nigerian, French, Indonesian, Californian and blends of the above. Inside the gym, the silent auction is not silent, it is a place to meet, and in the distance the song of the auctioneer selling quilts and other desirables provides background. We are outside the fence most of the day, adding ice and salt to the four White Mountain freezers and listening for them to slow and signal that they are turning dense.  This, perhaps, is the most unifying conference event.  We find each other over shared pupusas, tacos, plantains, burgers, coffee, strawberry pie. funnel cakes, burritos and Menno-wurst. Did I mention our double vanilla with hot fudge topping?

2. Mother’s Day.

For some, the observance is always bittersweet. There is the sweetness of a special day to remember the parent who mothered us, the spouse who mothered our children, and the children that made us mothers, but for many, it is not an easy day. Who does not have friends for whom this day is a reminder of intense pain? It may dare us to face the tragedies of broken relationships, of missing children, of those taken by death. It may remind us of abusive, of abandoning or of unavailable parents. The day can be lonely and hurtful unless someone remembers and throws an arm around the shoulders, sends a note, or makes a call. Some churches hold a service of remembrance as healing for those who are still letting go (does it ever end?) of the past. It’s not too late to remember what the day may have cost for those you love. They will get it.

3. “Blessed are the rich, for they now own the Earth.”
“Blessed are the rich, for they now own the Earth” (apologies to Jesus). This is a topic we too rarely, if ever truly,  talk about. Add to your reading list the much lauded book  Poverty, by America by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, who declares that the war on poverty is over and the rich won. We have devised our ways for the wealthy to exploit the masses and promote unending poverty. Desmond contrasts the American way of benefiting the rich as compared with other systems elsewhere in the world.  The book is not only worth thinking and conversing about with your peers; it invites you to ask what Jesus truly meant when he said, “The poor you will always have with you.” He could be the master of irony. 
4. Organ Recital.
Have you noted what we note? As our peers gather, regardless of the event or its scheduled agenda, before it begins, someone offers or asks for an update on health, medical appointments, personal crises, and the all-important roster of aches and pains. At Pilgrim Place, the ecumenical retirement home in Claremont Village, Calif.,  some wag calls this an Organ Recital. (Pause here for your chuckle.) For some, it is the necessary prelude before any thing else can claim our attention. For others, it is the main event. The fugue-like character of developing themes is surprising, indeed remarkable. There are events that can, do and should take precedence when we meet, but not all that passes for a common concern is always of common interest. So before I pull out the stops and tread the pedals . . . oh, did I mention I saw my doctor today?
5. It is Strawberry time.
We do not  forget to first toss them in a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, a couple tablespoons of sugar and a good dusting of finely ground black pepper, right? We do not forget to call them Milton’s Berries. On a visit to California by our late brother Dr. Milton Good and his wife, David’s sister Ann, we ended the day with a flat of berries from a field just down the road.

“I will do them the French way, with a sugar vinegrette and black pepper to enhance the flavor and the umami,” I announce.

“Oh no, you won’t,” Milton protested. “My bowl will have only sugar.”

So we served two bowls of sliced berries, but upon hearing his wife’s exclamations, he reached over and took a spoonful of hers, and then a second. Then he rose to his 6-feet, 4-inch height and picked up his serving bowl. “Come, show me what you did.” In a few minutes, we were all praising French cuisine. Of the hundred ways Milton lives on in our lives, isn’t it the spring berries that invariably bring him to our table? We do not truly lose those we love; we find a place for them in our souls that nothing can take away.


David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Read More

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