I have made an amazing discovery. Nothing says "I love you," better than a four gallon container
of cannoli filling. That is, if you are my dear friend John, whose appreciation of food belies family roots that stretch back to Norcia, Italy.
And cannolis are at the top of his list, along with chocolate layer cake, grilled kielbasa, pasta fagioli, and a quality "gravy." Actually, the only food not on the list is potatoes, though he’ll eat them without complaint if they’re served.
The discovery came about because one of my sons works each summer at a bakery at the Jersey shore, within walking distance of John’s house. The bakery closes for the fall and winter so rather than throw out remaining stock, my son delivered a number of goodies to John and his family. Included with the surprise was a large tub of cannoli filling.
John has been trying to track my son down for a week to thank him "Norcia" style, because, really, how many people can say they were ever the recipient of several gallons of cannoli cream?
For John, this was not just a little treat or simple pleasure. It was a gift from the angels, a reason to celebrate, and the makings of a family story that will be retold time and time again: "Do you remember the time when Chris brought me four gallons of cannoli filling??! And we ate it all even without any shells?!"
In my life, John has been the epitome of gratitude, and not just because he responds to every meal as if it was the best he’d ever eaten! Throughout the many years of our friendship I have learned that John lives on the breath of gratitude and his response is always celebratory. If an exclamation point had arms and legs, its name would be John.
It is a rare person who lives in awareness of the gifts in life. Such a person also lives in awareness of the presence of God.
In the Jewish tradition there is a deeply meaningful practice of reciting blessings throughout the day. There are blessings for eating bread, drinking wine, smelling spices or fruit, upon arising, when bathing, at bedtime, to name a few. This practice requires that a person pause in the moment, focus their attention on the gifts of God, which we too often overlook, and offer an intention of the heart full of gratitude. In so doing, we acknowledge that God is the source of all good and the reason for our joy.
No doubt in my mind that God is the mover and shaker behind canolli, the Jersey shore, and a very special friend like John!
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton
Copyright © 2010 by Mary Regina Morrell