Unless

A special guest post about one of my favorite subjects: prayer and Isabella. This reflection was written by my dad, who spent three weeks with us after Sophia’s birth, sleeping on the spare bed in Bella’s room and helping to take care of her as I recovered from the c-section.

I begin to wake to the gentle whimper.  She is awake and I am sure her diaper is very wet.  I hope that she will go back to sleep.  As she sees me get out of bed she begins to talk in happy tones and I begin to tell her it is night and she needs to go back to sleep after she has her diaper changed.  She lies down quietly and I go back to bed.  But not for long as she hears her Daddy getting ready for work.  “Daddy go work.  Daddy go work.”  So it is time to get up.  I fix her some breakfast and she sits at her little table.  She looks up at me and says, �full of grace�.  I think for a second and realize that she wants to pray, to bless the food.  So we make the sign of the cross and bless the food.

While she is eating I get my Liturgy of the Hours, sit on the couch, and begin to pray Morning Prayer.  Very shortly here she comes into the room and I think that is the end of Morning Prayer.  She walks up to where I am sitting and stares at me.  I begin to read the psalms aloud and she climbs up beside me and sits motionless while I read the prayers.

We are going for a walk and she runs to the door, whining with anxiety, wanting her coat and the stroller.  I dress her warmly and place her in the stroller.  We start down the busy street with many cars passing.  We hear a siren that is getting louder.  She turns in the stroller and says, �full of grace�.  We stop and say a prayer for the person in distress.  We are going to the large Catholic cemetery about 10 blocks away.  When we reach the cemetery I take her from the stroller so she can �run, run�.  After about 30 minutes of walking in the cemetery, I hear a car approaching and yell to her that a car is approaching.  She quickly moves from the street to the grass and patiently waits for the car to pass.  Then I tell her the car is gone and we proceed on our walk.  The car stops a short distance in front of us and a woman gets out and walks to a grave covered with a large mound of flowers.  She is almost prostrate on the grave, obviously full of grief.  As we approach close to that grave the little girl turns to me and says, �full of grace�.  We stop and pray with the lady full of grief.

When we return to the house, I take her into her room to change her diaper.  She looks at the crucifix on the wall and says, “Jesus.”  We go into the living room and she opens the drawer on the coffee table and takes out a number of prayer cards, and names each of them: John Paul, Mary, Jesus.

On Sunday we go to mass.  On entering the church she puts her tiny hand into the holy water and with assistance makes the sign of the cross. At the elevation of the body of Christ she points and says, “Jesus Christ.”  As we leave the church, she points the statue and says, “Mary,” after kneeling in front of the tabernacle.  After we return home, I am sitting on the couch and she comes and stands in front of me.  I reach down to pick her up and as I do I look into her face and see that she is full of grace, a little baptized child without sin.  She is full of the Holy Spirit which she has repeatedly shown throughout each day.

�Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.�

3 Responses to Unless

  1. Elizabeth May 19, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    This is my favorite Indian cookbook too. Definitely try the Rogan Josh, some of the chickens, and some of the aromatic rice dishes too!
    Now I’ll have to try the cauliflower one myself. You’re right, they are not quick, but really, once you have things prepped and measured out, they are not complicated. They LOOK complicated with long lists of ingredients, but once you have the basics on hand, it’s not hard. I agree though that these are very good team-cooking recipes!
    Just last weekend we pulled it out and did a long overdue Indian meal with several dishes from this cookbook. The kids are finally able to like some of the recipes (we keep to the nonspicy ones) so we can get back to cooking Indian at home. Then again, probably the real reason it is easier to cook these again is that the kids can entertain themselves during the process—and my 7-year-old daughter loved helping with the cooking. I think it’s starting to help her open up her culinary horizons!

  2. Heather Price May 19, 2008 at 7:18 am #

    I have a tandoori chicken recipe that everyone loves, but I don’t make it often because skinning the chicken is so time-consuming (the legs for the kids).
    But—and this is my real point—SFO Mom saves herself time by making a double batch of the marinade and freezes it. Would that help with this recipe?

  3. Melanie Bettinelli May 19, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    Heather, unfortunately the way the steps work you pretty much have to cook it all at once. The sauce doesn’t really cook separate from the veggies. But I can certainly do much of the prep work—cutting the veggies and measuring out the spices—early in the day and it would streamline the cooking quite a bit.

    What I actually omitted from the blog post because it would really have been a tangent was that my in laws showed up to take Bella for a birthday ice cream right in the middle of cooking dinner. And then by the time that was done Sophia of course was starting to get hungry so I had to let the poor dear cry while I was finishing up the cauliflower.

    Elizabeth,

    I used to make the chicken with cream sauce all the time before we were married. I made it for Dom for the first time last week and he loved it. Usually we wimp out when it comes to Indian chicken and make a quick curry with sauce from a jar. (When he was a bachelor Dom subsisted on jarred curry sauces from Patak’s and getting him to cut back to once every week or two was pretty hard.)

    In general I tend to let him do a main dish and I supplement with a creative veggie side and perhaps a daal as well if I’m feeling particularly adventuresome. We both love to cook and work together very well in the kitchen so cooking is often a shared activity to be enjoyed as together time rather than a chore to slog through.

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