Gimme that old-time religion


I desperately want to grow up to become the gray-haired great grandmother who bakes you a seven-layer chocolate cake with buttercream icing. Ignore the fact that I’ve never baked a cake that didn’t start with a little help from my friend Betty. And yet, I press on.

She pressed her white pants the night before on that rickety ironing board her husband always forgets to grease, adding that front crease that gives her classic elegance thanks to a little extra water poured in to get the steam rolling. Her short and simple navy dangle earrings match her loose linen blouse. She has more grandchildren than neck wrinkles, but she wonders about the callus ratio. How many years has she worked her feet into blisters, standing for ten hours or more on that black-and-white tile floor that wears a dusting of flour?

You can see it in her eyes that the recipe has never changed.

Somehow, she managed to never crave the next best thing, spinning that marble cake platter at the same delicate speed, spreading that dollop of icing with the worn wooden-handled silicone spatula with the precise steadiness she had on the last thousand cooling layers.

Every Sunday, she slides in effortlessly into the same wooden pew. She keeps that hanky in her pocket, just in case they decide to play The Old Rugged Cross again. (Gets her sniffling every time.) She loves to hold that old hymnal in her hands, lifting a hand from the thin crinkly pages to wave to a friend here or there. Sometimes she sneaks a caramel chew, opening the noisy wrapper in her pocket to muffle the noise.

She comes to church every Sunday with a secret — she can’t wait to go home. She walks towards home, humming another one of her favorites…

Gimme that old-time religion

Gimme that old-time religion

Gimme that old-time religion

It’s good enough for me

I can’t figure out if you can still live this simple life today, the one that follows an old recipe that tastes like sweetness. I can’t figure out if it’s still available, still spinning and twirling out there somewhere on those marble cake platters, this life where you don’t need a tattoo to remember to believe or a calendar alert to tell you where to go on Sunday morning.

This life where you write out the secret recipe in cursive, yet you stopped needing to reference it decades ago.

Where is this life that looks nothing like a Netflix Original drama and everything like a classic hardcover book collecting dust on a wooden shelf?

Where is this life that smells nothing like burnt gluten-free, dairy-free cake and everything like fresh laundry greeting you at the front door?

Where is this life that feels nothing like swiping a touchscreen and everything like rubbing your fingers on a silky rose petal?

Where is this life that sounds nothing like talking to Alexa and everything like an alarm clock that buzzes every morning at 5:15 a.m. to start your daily baking?

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7-8)

One response to “Gimme that old-time religion”

  1. […] I certainly do not. But I’m learning to watch the fisherman, the man jogging, the old man reading the newspaper, and the gray-haired baker. […]

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