Comic strips often entertain us with a funny moment, but occasionally the cartoonist will introduce a bit of insight within their colorful panels. Such was the case Sunday when Jan Eliot provided such wisdom in her comic strip, “Stone Soup.”
One of the characters is Alix, a precocious nine-year-old girl who is sitting at the kitchen table watching her Grandmother rolling the dough for a homemade pie.
Alix asks, “Gramma, why do you like to make pies so much?”
Her Gramma explains that when she was a young mother, they did not have much money, but she and her husband had an orchard abundant with pears, apples and peaches. So, when they could afford only rice and beans for dinner, what lifted the spirits of her family was a delicious homemade pie for dessert.
After hearing her Gramma’s explanation, Alix replies, “In other words … before Prozac, there was pie.”
Gramma ends the story with this statement, “That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!”
Growing up, I recall my grandmother making pies to deliver to folks who were physically ailing or mentally going through a difficult time. She regularly baked my brother his favorite chocolate pie and would always make a blackberry cobbler for my mother when the berries were in season. I don’t think I ever visited her when she didn’t bake a pie out of love or compassion for someone.
I remember one summer day, her friend, Mrs. Harris, was ill. First thing on a Saturday morning, we visited Mrs. Harris’ bearing an apple pie full of concern and affection. Before we left, Mrs. Harris was giggling with her friend and hugging me goodbye.
The tradition of pie giving was passed down from those ancestors who resided in the Southern hills to hearts who needed a pie’s restorative power. Aunts, mothers, grandmothers, a few uncles and even some grandpas inherited the gift of producing a mouthful of joy. My Granddaddy couldn’t make a pie, but he sure could mend a mortal with his homemade peanut brittle.
My mom could roll out the best pie crust on the planet. Plus, she had the artistic talent to create the perfect lattice top over her delicious fruit pies. She would serve them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Mom could dry tears and melt hearts with her delicious creations. I once dubbed her the “Queen of Pies,” and to this day, I believe she undoubtedly was.
Friends and family frequently question me, “Lynn, why do you insist on baking homemade desserts? You can go to Publix and get a great pie or cake and not have to go through the trouble.”
My answer is the same, “It’s not the same!”
Generosity, compassion and joy are only found in the work you go through to create them. Not everyone knows how to bake a pie, but they sure know how to gather flowers, write a sweet note or hold a hand. When we use extra energy to lift another’s spirit, whether it is through baking a pie or going for a visit, we deliver healing. When we go to the trouble to love, we give hate trouble.
Our world is a busy place where texting emoji hearts, sad or smiling faces makes it simple to share our emotions. We are “convenient” happy. Whatever makes our lives easier is becoming the norm. However, our days will become more comfortable only when our society becomes a less hateful place.
A peaceful world can exist only through loving each other enough to create a pie made of sincere compassion, prayer and understanding. Comforting another is not about “easy,” it is about sacrifice and empathy. There is no emoji in the technological world which shows the recipe for genuine kindness.
“Before Prozac, there was pie,” Alix declared. I suffer from depression, and I understand needing medications for this illness. However, if my family and friends had been too busy to hug me, pray with me or cook my kids’ dinner through some of those wicked dark hours, would I have made it? When those compassionate souls took the time to physically aid me, they helped me see a sunny day was on the horizon.
“That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!” Gramma happily tells her grandchildren as she holds her beautiful baked pie above her head. What if we brought a homemade pie of kindness to the table of hate and calmed anger with a dose of warmed goodness?
Then our grandchildren would learn just like I did from my grandmother; when we take the time to create love, we might just witness healing our hurts one pie at a time.