Baked golden pastry, warmed butter, cinnamon, rain falling outside… Last week we made pumpkin pie together and we tried a new recipe for both the pastry and the pumpkin filling. I live in a community house duplex for folks on various journeys towards wellness. Baking together is not only a delicious adventure, but it also builds friendship and community and brings joy to someone else, just as they bring joy to me. When you are living among others who are on a journey towards health and stable living, you end up learning a whole lot more about your own wellness needs. Sometimes celebrating new gifts and shared creativity (such as baking) can do so much in building trust, healing wounds, and building relationship.
I’m learning that time together in any creative process is a way to honour one other, and say ‘you mean something to me; I value you.” Even when words aren’t spoken, standing side by side and sharing the creative process has a language of love all on its own.
Jean Vanier, the founder of the international L’Arche organization, inspires me to work on loving better–to love with integrity but also with new heights: “We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” The amount of love felt between two or three people as they mix flour and butter together, take turns adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and knead and roll out the dough can be extraordinary. There is something about the act of the hands ‘making’ together that is caring and uniting. A simple act of baking pumpkin pie can provide a space of connection that is so human and so beyond human.
This creating of family through warm baked pies coming out of our oven reminded of a memory I hold dear to my heart: it was another time in my life of celebrating family with pumpkin pie…
I was eight years old. It was the Christmas holidays and I was in California with my family, visiting my aunt, uncle and cousin. The sky was the blue of innocence, we got to wear shorts in winter, and for some reason, I also remember with great fondness playing hoops with the echo of the ball on the backboard like my young child heartbeat. But what I remember most about that holiday is our pumpkin pie moment. It was like tasting something golden. I remember all of us sitting together at supper time, candle going, full tummies from dinner, and a stirring feeling of contentment. I remember the child-like trust that this would never end. I remember the joy of 64 crayola crayons that Christmas, of the excitement of flying on an airplane, the adventure of being picked up from school in a snowstorm to make it to the airport on time, the huge church with so many candles and strangers who all seemed to have something in common, on Christmas Eve. I remember love.
When I baked pumpkin pies with my housemates last week, it wasn’t just the present moment pumpkin pies that brought joy; it was the memory laid overtop, it was the past and present coming together into a new experience of deeper joy. It was remembering what comfort family could bring me as a child, and then knowing together the same feeling of family but in an entirely new and unexpected way in our community house. It was delivering the pies together, watching my housemates go to the joy, hearing S. whoop with joy when she got back to the car, and starting to really understand that being a blessing to others brings more joy than anything we could do for ourselves.
If you are in pie making mood this holiday season, maybe make this a family event, or do it with friends. You’ll be surprised how that mixing and kneading and rolling will ground you in love and give you a space to invite one another into the kind of shared humanness and extraordinary love that Jean Vanier talks about. And when that happens, no matter the recipe, the ingredient you won’t see there, but will definitely feel is … a really big *spoonful of love.
Recipe for Pie Crust Pastry (enjoyed and adapted with thanks from Kevin Lee Jacobs @ www.agardenforthehouse.com
Pie Crust (makes 1 medium-sized pie)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 stick or 1/4 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
1/4 cup very cold water
*spoonful of extraordinary love
Recipe for Pumpkin Pie filling (adapted from a family friend’s recipe)
1.5 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1 tin (385 mL) tin carnation evaporated milk
1/2 tsp ginger, nutmeg, cloves
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine ingredients; pour into pie shell; sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top.
Cook at 350F for 55-60 minutes
Enjoy your pie and making it together, and feel free to share stories of your pie making in the comment section below.
16 thoughts on “Doing Ordinary Things with Extraordinary Love (& Pie)”
Such a wonderful story of the power of food to connect us to others and to our memories. And pumpkin pie has powerful meaning in my family too. Your writing makes me want to return to read more … I will.
Marlene you are so kind! Thank you for reading and commenting and for your kind words. Happy to hear pumpkin pie has a powerful meaning for you too. I look forward to reading your blog stories. It was so lovely to meet you!
I remember my grandmother teaching my sister and me how to make a coconut cream pie (which is my favourite). Her oven temp was higher than she thought so it burned. My grandmother never swore but this was one of those times she came close.
Thanks for your lovely response Jennifer! I have a friend who has requested I make coconut cream pie! I love your story about your grandmother, thanks for sharing. Great memory.
Beautifully written– along with a yummy pie recipe!! thanks. Loved your quote of extraordinary love.
Hi Rhonda, thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, and the quote about extraordinary love! Thanks for commenting and reading along.
Hi Debra!! You’re blog is beautiful– nice full lovely posts. And I used your extraordinary quote on my own blog today (hope you don’t mind). We have our sons family living with us for now because they were evacuated due to wildfires– and are waiting on repairs to their home. And there are so many chances for extraordinary love with them here. Your words were such an encouragement. thanks. Hope you have a blessed Christmas! xo
Wow Rhonda, I am so happy you used the quote. It’s a great one, and the more people it touches, that is wonderful. My aunt went through an evacuation due to wild fires in California a couple of months ago. So I know the difficult emotions she was going through. My thoughts are with you and your son. Thank you for your very kind words, and I hope you and they experience extraordinary love this Christmas. So nice to connect with you. Be blessed.
Hi Debra– was your Aunt’s home OK?? Our kids had some damage but it is being repaired. There with us for now and it’s been good to have them under out roof. Hoping you have a blessed Christmas — so good to hear from you. xox
Yes thankfully my aunt was able to return to her home — no damage. They had to get out quick, but their homes were saved. Happy to hear your kids damage is repairable. Enjoy your time with them warm and safe under your roof. Merry Christmas.
Your so dear Debra. Yep, it’s going to be OK ahead. My brothers are surprising the 3 grand-girls with new bikes (theirs burned) on Christmas Eve! Glad glad you Aunt’s home was spared. Merriest Christmas! xo
Wow, I really love the way you write! So full of feeling and so genuine. I really feel like I’m missing out now, having never had pumpkin pie! I think it’s time to gather some family around for a good baking sesh…
thanks so much for your kinds comments and for reading along! Glad you are enjoying the posts. Hope you get to try pumpkin pie–it’s delicious!