Chicken and Dumplings

I woke up early Sunday morning and made chicken and dumplings. They look something like the picture above (that’s not mine however). I didn’t know why I made them — I just had this desire.

Normally I go to church on Sunday, but not last Sunday. I cooked instead, with the church service streamed online to my TV, because technology is wonderful. By the end of the church service, I realized why I made the chicken and dumplings.

I like to shred the chicken. It’s how my wife taught me. A northerner, I had zero experience with southern comfort food. My wife also likes to add egg noodles to her C+D, to give the dish more creaminess. I was out of egg noodles, so I cheated. I par boiled some lasagna noodles, then cut them into strips. Nobody would ever know.

Nearly 11 years ago, on the day after Christmas, I cooked one of my northern dishes, taught to me by years of watching my Italian step-father (the best cook I ever knew). I made homemade pasta sauce, with sausage and meatballs. It literally takes all day, and overnight to simmer. I made an enormous pot of it.

One of my best friends, almost family, was in the hospital then. He was near death, and only 22 years old — after suffering a gunshot wound. The .45 bullet had given him four separate injuries the doctors called “one-percenters” meaning that each had a 99% mortality rate. Do the math. But I made a celebration dinner.

When my business partner and longtime friend’s father suddenly passed seven years ago, I made lasagna. I didn’t ask, I cooked and brought a huge lasagna over to his house. It was heartily gobbled up by everyone there, because nobody thought to cook.

Food is comfort. When a new baby is born at our church, there’s a ministry group that cooks meals for the parents. I usually make comfort food: C+D, chicken pot pie, lasagna.

Food celebrates life. I made that homemade pot of love in 2005 because God assured me that my friend would live. He lived, and now has a family of his own. A family at our church lost their dad in the last week. My wife had followed his health issues, but I barely knew them. I wasn’t thinking about them at all when I woke up Sunday morning.

But God was. I was going to eat a few meals from the large batch of chicken and dumplings I cooked. Then I was going to freeze the rest for the winter — good hot comfort food for a cold day.

God had other plans. At the end of the church service, the pastor mentioned, in passing, to pray for this family that suffered a loss. I knew right then where the meal would go. Last night, that family ate comfort food. It wasn’t the food itself that comforted, it was the love God showed by having someone cook it for them.

Food is spiritual. Many times, God would rather have us cook for each other than sit in church or teach Sunday school. I know God is speaking to me when I make chicken and dumplings.