This is her sanctuary. I enter only after washing my hands with holy water. She moves fluidly in this space. Here her hair is pulled up in a clip and she is dancing.
Today, before she begins our evening meal, she is preparing cinnamon rolls. She sprinkles flour over the counter and its white presence provides a celestial backdrop.
Before we built our new house my mom got her hands dirty in only one thing—the plans for the kitchen. Her list included cabinets with pull out drawers, lighting under the shelving, deep sinks, a lot of counter space, and a large island. After years of working in a tiny kitchen with few cabinets and two feet of counter top, the new one was to be her place of rest, of peace.
This Saturday morning is typical as I walk downstairs and find her in the midst of a flour sprinkling. The Gather family is serenading the space with old Gospel hymns, my mom occasionally adding her own alto voice to the mix. But this morning she does not need to sing in order to worship.
She rolls out the dough and retrieves the ruler and string from a drawer. I’ve seen her at this altar enough to know what comes next. I know from her teaching that one should never work dough too much and her technique ensures this. She lays down the ruler, measures an inch and a half, and marks the spot, gently depressing the roll of dough with the tip of her pastry cutter. Once she has measured each—1 ½ inch—she pulls her string taut, wrapping it around her two pointer fingers. She then precisely and evenly cuts through the dough and as the Father’s finish their version of Amazing Grace, my mom is left with ten even pieces.
She looks up and notices her disciple and simply smiles. I don’t want to interrupt this service and move to the living room—a spot where I can still see her working. After the cinnamon rolls are done she puts on a pot of coffee, grabs a cookbook, and invites me to join. I know she needs a little time to devour the recipes, to meditate on them and roll them around through her brown sugared fingers. And so I wait for the coffee pot to gurgles its call of completion and I pour us each a cup—I add creamer, its whiteness swirling through the thick black liquid and I turn down the Gather’s It Is Well With My Soul and join my mom at the table.
She’s been up for hours and I’m still in my pajamas and yet we meet at this table and hold our mugs the same way. Her brown eyes, which are my own, look up from Taste of Home and she asks what I would like for supper. I know she is taking her Sabbath today and we discuss what would taste good together. Certain meats are always better with certain fruits. After our coffee is gone, she picks up our mugs, gives me a kiss, turns the Gathers back up, and goes back to her rest.
That night, as my sister and I set the table, she finishes up in the kitchen. The smells in the house bring peace that lit incense could not. My dad says grace and mom places her offering in front of us.
I don’t know if I will cut my cinnamon rolls with a ruler or if I will sing while I cook, but I hope, as I brush her dark hair out of my eyes, that one day my family sees me worship—the way my mom showed me how.