Eating Poison

Good Morning,

I think many of you are familiar with the works of Edgar Allen Poe.  This morning, I came across an interesting comment he made while introducing a short story called “The Black Cat”. It’s often compared to his more famous work, “The Telltale Heart”, in that they both tell about a person who almost gets away with murder, but is finally brought down by his own sense of guilt. There’s a sermon right there, I suppose, but not one I’m getting ready to share. The part that grabbed me this morning was the way in which the story begins: “For the most wild, yet mostly homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”

I had to smile a bit, and wonder how many of my blogs should have started that way. “I neither expect nor solicit belief.”

For example, what would you say if I told you that one of Tony’s and my favorite things to eat for breakfast is a concoction that depends on poison for its preparation?

Do you believe me?  Maybe I should explain.  There are a lot of Texans on both sides of our family tree; and before you jump ahead of me and declare, “Oh well, that explains it!”  hear me out. My heritage goes a long way east, and for several hundred years has been moving steadily west, from the Mississippi River thru Missouri to Texas, to Colorado, then to Japan before taking a slight turn south and west to Australia.

But back in the turn of the 20th century, life was hard west of the Mississippi and the people there had to be a tough lot. My Maternal Grandfather died of the pandemic Spanish Flu when my mother was just an infant.  My daddy inherited that pioneer spirit, and it showed itself when he came home from the war to find that his fiancée had married his brother.  No, he didn’t pull out his six-gun, but that very night, he packed up his belongings and headed for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Over the next several years, he met and married the lady who would give me life, and created for us a wonderful family; made more so because my sister and I were part of it!

In his heart of hearts, Daddy was a tough but also a warm and loving man.  Eventually he made peace with his brother and they were able to testify a lot about the joy of forgiveness. (and I got some great cousins).

Being a scientist by trade, his world was pretty much based on facts, and one way that played out (here it comes at last!)  was in the fact that every morning of his life he ate the same thing.

By now you may have guess that I’m talking about GRITS!

Neither Tony nor I are quite that rigid in our diet, but I do confess to several sacks of that stuff of life tucked away in my pantry. My lovely Aussie son-in-law, after trying them once, declared that grits is one thing that will never pass his lips again (He may have been traumatized expecting something sweet, the same way first timers often look at vegemite and think it looks like chocolate). But if you share my heritage, then you can appreciate a piping hot bowl of grits with a good slathering of butter and a lot of salt and pepper. Ah, the stuff of dreams!

But wait!  Back to the point I promised. If you do some research, you’ll find that “grits” are made by the process of “Nixtamalization by the use of lye”.  Yeah, I had to look it up too, but someone back thru the ages discovered that if you soaked hard corn in lye (a deadly poison when taken straight), the hull (called the pericarp) will finally come off, leaving you with a nice, basically nutrition-less mass of white starch that can be ground up, cooked, and become the platform for a lot of other yummy things, like biscuits, gravy, bacon and eggs.

In honor of this heritage, we watched “True Grit” the other night. It’s a great John Wayne movie from the 80’s, and while it’s not about corn, it looks at the mettle of the man of the west.  Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) never gave in, never backed down, always kept his cool and in the end he … well I guess he didn’t get the girl, but he had a mighty fine horse. And when it over, we all said, “Ahh, there was a man with true grit!”

Now, how about we step forward and consider that ‘Nixamalization’ process to something like the Coronavirus? It’s been tough in a lot of ways, to the point where some are suggesting that the cure may be worse than the disease. As each day I sit in my batch of lye (otherwise known as “lockdown and social distancing”), I can almost feel my pericarps hitting the floor.

And I begin to wonder, what am I going to be like when all this is over? Most of us agree that this is an event that’s going to define this generation. So far, most folks are finding things to laugh about, and every day we can see people showing their good sides that might not have been so obvious before. Will that continue when things get back to “normal”, or at least the new normal in which we’ll find ourselves? I hope so.
There are so many Bible references that give us hope. Just this morning, during our online worship service, our pastor read from James 1:12. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Maybe you can add some of your own “endure-theme” favorite verses today, pass them around and be a blessing to many others?
Next week, I’ll tell you about a former child soldier I met in the social distancing line at the grocery store.  Ironically, it was a particular day when I had specifically asked God for some encouragement!!

Y’all come back now. Grits are on the stove,


Comments are closed.