4 Thirza's

Thirza Shupe (my aunt), Thirza Emily (Mama T), Thirza Claire (my cousin), Thirza Christine (me)

My grandmother, Thirza Emily Marshall Sayers, was an amazing woman.  She went by T to most, Mama T and Aunt T to some of us lucky ones.  She was a lady, a farmer, a hunter, a world traveler, a cook and a canner.  As a girl, I would can jelly, jam, pickles and chili sauce with her during the summer.  Her cellar was always stocked: floor to ceiling.

So, as the Lotus house inventory of ripe tomatoes began to take over the kitchen, I heard a call to can.

Ball Canning Jar

I imagine there may be at least one of you city folk, who does not know what “canning” means.  It is a method of preserving food, which oddly does not use a ‘can’ but actually a jar and a sealable lid.   The National Center for Home Food Preservation (who knew?) is a good resource for canning. 

Back to the story, this 4th generation Thirza makes note of some needs in the Lotus house:

  1. Salsa Deficit…I swear the boys drink that stuff!  We seem to go through a 20 oz jar in 2 days.
  2. Tomato Deluge (some might just say surplus)..Not only were our tomatoes coming in by the bucket load, but we were given 15# of tomatoes.  We were about to have to start sandbagging around our harvest counter to keep God’s abundant crop from rolling all over the kitchen.  We had to do something with these tomatoes.  While slicing them and marinating them in balsamic with greek seasoning was delicious and enjoyed by the Loti, the Greek tomato method was not putting a dent in the deluge.

So, while there was a whisper within my heart to use these ‘maters for Mama T’s Chili Sauce, the need was clear: Chile Salsa.

A team was formed:

1. Scott ‘100’ Nelson at the blade–not one chile seed got by him,

2 & 3. Alden and Daniel to provide the spiritual encouragement through song–not just for the team, but the song clearly added a sweet flavor to the salsa tambien.

4. and one determined Thirza–determined to make use of God’s good stuff and provide yummy, essentially free salsa for the house.

Tia's Chile Salsa

Tia’s Chile Salsa

Determination turned out to be a good thing as we wrapped up the batch an unexpected 5 hours later.  Whew!  I have so much more respect for all that Mama T did and for all of those out there that take the time to preserve the best things for their family.  Growing gardens, keeping chickens (especially with hungry cats & possums on the loose), canning…

At the Lotus House, I have gained a deeper appreciation and recognition of the origin and value of the meal we eat together…the vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, meat.  Whether we have grown it, hunted or gathered it, received it as gift, purchased it from a local farmer, or frugally acquired it through bulk purchase, there are many hands and feet, backs, sweat and tears that go into providing these good things for the Table.  I certainly have a greater appreciation for the gift and sacrifice of the body of Christ as I approach the Table.

We have been singing You Satisfy the Hungry Heart at the Presbyterian Church of Potosi often recently.

You satisfy the hungry heart
with gift of finest wheat,
come give to us o saving Lord,
the bread of life to eat.

As when the shepherd calls his sheep,
they know and heed his voice;
so when You call Your family Lord,
we follow and rejoice. (Refrain)

With joyful lips we sing to You,
Our praise and gratitude,
that You should count us worthy Lord,
to share this heavenly food. (Refrain)

Is not the cup we bless and share,
the blood of Christ outpoured?
Do not one cup, one loaf declare
Our oneness in the Lord? (Refrain)

The mystery of Your presence Lord,
no mortal tongue can tell;
whom all the world cannot contain
comes in our hearts to dwell. (Refrain)

You give yourself to us o Lord,
then selfless let us be,
to serve each other in Your name
in truth and charity. (Refrain)

Words: Omer Westendorf (1977), Music:  Robert E Kreutz (1977) (Interestingly… the year I was born!)

When you work in a cubicle all day, rush to the grocery store on the way home to pick up a prepared meal and devour it on the couch in front of the TV, you likely will miss the beautiful gift that the body of Christ has put together for you–from ‘gift of finest grain’ to ‘bread of life.’  My hungry heart was rarely satisfied by these provisions (…not that eating in the Lotus House has completely satisfied my heart…I am still human and living with humans).   “The Mystery of (God’s) Presence” is more tangible when two or three are gathered, more felt, more satisfying.  This week I am especially mindful of  Zacchaeus– the lonely, ostracized, but not innocent seeker, because of the lectionary text last Sunday, Luke 19:1-10, and because I am grieving the death of my niece Thirza Nichole Sayers.  Nichole felt alone.  She went seeking all the way to Santa Monica.  I was unable to provide a balm to her wounds, a sweet chile sauce.  Perhaps she was unable to receive it.

Two are gathered

Two are gathered

In her honor and Mama T’s, I hope to share Tia’s Chile Salsa with many a Hungry Heart.  I thank you Mama T and Lotus House for helping me to appreciate these gifts, to share them, and to better feel the Mystery of God’s presence.