Needing a Pocket of Hope?

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” St. Augustine

The chef knife lay over the clove of garlic flat and I smacked it with my fist feeling the clove spread out flat under the knife.  Madeline’s eyebrows went up, “Can I try?” I lay the knife on the next clove turned the blade away from her and she smacked it strong.  I picked up the knife and there it was, another clove exposed, tender, vulnerable.  She wiped her finger over the garlic, smelled the oil.  “Mmmmm…it smells like home.”

And it did.  Yup, 80% of my meals start with crushed garlic and a swirl of olive oil.

I finished chopping the fresh rosemary, knife rocking back and forth on the evergreen needles, poured a stream of golden olive oil into the bowl, measured in Modena balsamic vinegar, twisted the pepper grinder and added the herbs and garlic.  A marinade for tonight’s chicken breast with the hope of a beautiful dinner, lively conversation.


No more peanut butter and honey sandwiches slapped together while we rushed around packing, PF chang’s frozen dinner meals pulled out of the freezer.  Inhuman moving food.


It felt good, holding the knife, feeding tired people at the end of the day.  Andrew stood over the grill with the red potatoes, the chicken breast, the asparagus, glancing occasionally at his Weber App.

I’m on the search for pockets of home…a small oasis of hope within the chaos of our move.

We have traveled across the country and carried large plastic tubs one by one into the basement of my mom and dad’s great big three-story house, folded our clothes into the empty drawers of their guest rooms.  The large sunburst window overlooks hills where a monastery cross rises in the distance. Our albs now hang in the closet, lace with the chi-rho embroidery sweeps the carpeted closet floor.  I glance at them wondering when we will button them back on, when we will pray as we kiss the stole, “May the priests be clothed with righteousness.” (Psalm 139:2)

This has become our sanctuary as we begin our sabbatical, as we lift up our foot and take giant faith steps into the next years of our life.

Today the pocket of home was the cooking and the meal, the arms of loved ones welcoming us.  Yesterday the sanctuary was the run over hills dotted with Amish farms, the pavement grooved straight with hundreds of buggy wheels.  My heart raced with the chaos of the move, the long trip across the state of Pennsylvania with three children squeezed tight between suitcases and backpacks and stuffed animals.  I feared the “Where do I put my legs?” and “I’m bored” and “I have to go to the bathroom.”  Hours of crammed chaos stretching across the hours weighed heavy and I took it to the pavement, turned left with short strides.

I had read Psalm 27 before tying on my tennis shoes in the early morning, kids still sleeping, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” and then, “I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  And apparently, I needed that last one because as I ran with my short strides up the hills, my mind began digesting the words in small phrases.  “I believe,” pound, pound, “in the goodness of the LORD,” pound, pound, pound,”in the land of the living,” pound, pound, pound.  And again, as I crested the hill, “I believe” …”in the goodness of the LORD,”…”in the land of the living,” all the way through the long country square.

The Word became my pocket of home and the truth had grown roots and I once again believed that I would experience God’s goodness…even today.  I hiked up the long driveway to my in-laws’ home with the hammock swing on the front porch having chewed on a new belief until I swallowed it, a new truth digested step by step.

The Word had become hiding place, shelter…Life-giving meal of Bread of Life that lasted and lasted through the stretched-out hours.

Summer Gross

And you, friend, what truth do you need to take to the pavement?

Perhaps you would like to enjoy our “pocket of home” meal as well?


Rosemary Chicken with Arugula and White Beans

from Real Simple, April 2012 (picture from the same)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 cloves garlic, chopped

5 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

4 cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

In a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, whisk together the vinegar, rosemary, garlic, 2 Tbsp of the oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes up to 12 hours.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Add the beans, arugula, and onion and toss to combine.

Heat the remaining Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade) and cook until cooked through, 6-8 minutes per side. Serve the chicken with the arugula and beans.  (The Gross clan grilled our chicken 4 minutes on each side, moist but no longer pink.)

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