Gospel Grieving: Breaking Bread and Remembering

Gospel Grieving: Breaking Bread and Remembering

Video Courtesy of AEC Relationship Ministries


One of the most challenging things for me to adapt to while living in another culture has been making food for my housemates. I love to cook and try different recipes, but in a new environment, I found myself anxious about whether the sisters I live with would be open to my eclectic, mostly vegetarian cooking style in a house of enthusiastic carnivores. My Spanish seemed to turn to mush when I tried to navigate the bustling market-style grocery and the intimidating meat counter waiting system. At the beginning, I observed and tried to mimic some of the foods my housemates made. My guacamole never came out quite like theirs.

The pancakes Sr. Tracey Horan made the morning her grandma died (Provided photo)

The pancakes Sr. Tracey Horan made the morning her grandma died (Provided photo)

Slowly, I started incorporating some of my tried and true recipes — Mom’s tuna noodle casserole, my favorite quinoa salad, pancakes on Sunday morning like my dad used to make.

With these familiar recipes always flowed memories and stories. I would apologize for making such a large quantity of tuna casserole — my mom’s recipe was always made to feed seven. Dishing out the quinoa salad, I remembered how my Sister of Providence friends and I would make wraps out of it to pack for a day hike in Southern Indiana. Pulling a homemade pizza out of the oven, I would regale my housemates with the story of the first time I tried to make whole wheat pizza crust when I lived in El Paso, Texas, and how it turned out so hard we joked about using it as a paperweight or a doorstop.

The sisters I live with are fabulous cooks, and as we’ve gotten to know each other, they’ve shared more and more about the foods they eat back home with their families. And always memories and stories follow.

I marvel at how smells, tastes and combinations of ingredients connect us so intimately with people and places from the past. They help us remember.

I yearned for this sense of connection last month when my paternal grandma became ill and then died of COVID-19. The morning I got the news and knew there would be no way for me to travel to Indiana — much less the chance for all of our large family to gather during a pandemic — I was desperate for something familiar.

As I rummaged in the kitchen that morning, I remembered my dad telling us about the big pot of oatmeal Grandma would make for all 10 of her children. I could picture my aunts and uncles gathered around her table. In my mind, I looked around Grandma’s kitchen and could almost pinpoint where each famous recipe from each family would sit for our holiday pitch-ins growing up. Grandma’s chicken and noodles always had a prominent spot.

I remembered where Grandma’s garden sat in her yard and a conversation we had once about her green bean crop that year. Pleased with herself but in her humble, steady way, she shared how she had harvested so many that she had bags of green beans in the fridge to last her through the winter.

That morning I couldn’t find any green beans, and it was too hot for oatmeal. So, I settled on making pancakes in honor of my dad, who had lost his mother that day.

We all have foods and recipes that connect us to our roots — to who we are and the relationships that have shaped us. Given this connectedness, it’s no surprise that so many pivotal moments in the Christian Scriptures revolve around food.

Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding feast. As they celebrated their Passover meal together, Jesus and his followers had a serious conversation about the fate that awaited him. And he told them he would be given over as bread and wine for them: as food to sustain them, body and soul. Jesus taught his disciples about radical abundance as they fed 5,000 people together. Then on the road to Emmaus, two of his friends finally recognized their resurrected rabbi in the breaking of the bread.

Food — its smell, taste and texture — has a way of connecting us to our own humanity and etching memories on our hearts. Inherent in the process of making food is a death and resurrection: a plant or an animal has given its life for our nourishment, and our bodies transform this gift into new energy.

This moment in time has forced many of us to dig deep into the things and people that ground us. We are desperate for a familiar recipe — a set of ingredients that might nourish us the way they did in the past.

The hard truth is that no number of pancakes thrown on the griddle would allow me to hug my dad and tell him in person how sorry I am that he lost his mom and didn’t get to say goodbye. No number of virtual gatherings can replace real embraces and in-person laughter. And although Jesus’ followers did break bread with him again after he was sentenced to death, they all knew it would never be the same.

In this moment, we’re all making up recipes as we go, mostly from scratch. We’re throwing together pieces of relationality and encounter and praying, trusting that God will make them enough; that the final product will come out edible, will nourish us even if we’ve never made it that way before. And sometimes we’re smiling at each other between bites, with a knowing look that the toast is burnt or the rice wasn’t fully cooked or you should have waited one more minute before flipping that pancake. And it’s okay.

As people of faith, our belief in a God of transformation and possibility tells us that both hurt and hope are OK and real. We can both feel the helplessness of this moment and continue digging deep to discern what a worldwide pandemic asks of us. We can both mourn the loss of loved ones and be present to those still here who are suffering. We can feel the pain of separation and continue to decide each day to self-isolate out of care for the most vulnerable among us.

In living this hurt and hope, the bread of our lives is broken, but that means there are more pieces to share. And in that breaking, we find new recipes that we may someday remember and even pass down. We nourish one another in ways we never thought possible.


This article originally appeared in the Global Sisters Report.

Tracey Horan is a member of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She is the education coordinator at the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico.

Gospel Grieving: Breaking Bread and Remembering

Gospel Grieving: Breaking Bread and Remembering

Video Courtesy of AEC Relationship Ministries


One of the most challenging things for me to adapt to while living in another culture has been making food for my housemates. I love to cook and try different recipes, but in a new environment, I found myself anxious about whether the sisters I live with would be open to my eclectic, mostly vegetarian cooking style in a house of enthusiastic carnivores. My Spanish seemed to turn to mush when I tried to navigate the bustling market-style grocery and the intimidating meat counter waiting system. At the beginning, I observed and tried to mimic some of the foods my housemates made. My guacamole never came out quite like theirs.

The pancakes Sr. Tracey Horan made the morning her grandma died (Provided photo)

The pancakes Sr. Tracey Horan made the morning her grandma died (Provided photo)

Slowly, I started incorporating some of my tried and true recipes — Mom’s tuna noodle casserole, my favorite quinoa salad, pancakes on Sunday morning like my dad used to make.

With these familiar recipes always flowed memories and stories. I would apologize for making such a large quantity of tuna casserole — my mom’s recipe was always made to feed seven. Dishing out the quinoa salad, I remembered how my Sister of Providence friends and I would make wraps out of it to pack for a day hike in Southern Indiana. Pulling a homemade pizza out of the oven, I would regale my housemates with the story of the first time I tried to make whole wheat pizza crust when I lived in El Paso, Texas, and how it turned out so hard we joked about using it as a paperweight or a doorstop.

The sisters I live with are fabulous cooks, and as we’ve gotten to know each other, they’ve shared more and more about the foods they eat back home with their families. And always memories and stories follow.

I marvel at how smells, tastes and combinations of ingredients connect us so intimately with people and places from the past. They help us remember.

I yearned for this sense of connection last month when my paternal grandma became ill and then died of COVID-19. The morning I got the news and knew there would be no way for me to travel to Indiana — much less the chance for all of our large family to gather during a pandemic — I was desperate for something familiar.

As I rummaged in the kitchen that morning, I remembered my dad telling us about the big pot of oatmeal Grandma would make for all 10 of her children. I could picture my aunts and uncles gathered around her table. In my mind, I looked around Grandma’s kitchen and could almost pinpoint where each famous recipe from each family would sit for our holiday pitch-ins growing up. Grandma’s chicken and noodles always had a prominent spot.

I remembered where Grandma’s garden sat in her yard and a conversation we had once about her green bean crop that year. Pleased with herself but in her humble, steady way, she shared how she had harvested so many that she had bags of green beans in the fridge to last her through the winter.

That morning I couldn’t find any green beans, and it was too hot for oatmeal. So, I settled on making pancakes in honor of my dad, who had lost his mother that day.

We all have foods and recipes that connect us to our roots — to who we are and the relationships that have shaped us. Given this connectedness, it’s no surprise that so many pivotal moments in the Christian Scriptures revolve around food.

Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding feast. As they celebrated their Passover meal together, Jesus and his followers had a serious conversation about the fate that awaited him. And he told them he would be given over as bread and wine for them: as food to sustain them, body and soul. Jesus taught his disciples about radical abundance as they fed 5,000 people together. Then on the road to Emmaus, two of his friends finally recognized their resurrected rabbi in the breaking of the bread.

Food — its smell, taste and texture — has a way of connecting us to our own humanity and etching memories on our hearts. Inherent in the process of making food is a death and resurrection: a plant or an animal has given its life for our nourishment, and our bodies transform this gift into new energy.

This moment in time has forced many of us to dig deep into the things and people that ground us. We are desperate for a familiar recipe — a set of ingredients that might nourish us the way they did in the past.

The hard truth is that no number of pancakes thrown on the griddle would allow me to hug my dad and tell him in person how sorry I am that he lost his mom and didn’t get to say goodbye. No number of virtual gatherings can replace real embraces and in-person laughter. And although Jesus’ followers did break bread with him again after he was sentenced to death, they all knew it would never be the same.

In this moment, we’re all making up recipes as we go, mostly from scratch. We’re throwing together pieces of relationality and encounter and praying, trusting that God will make them enough; that the final product will come out edible, will nourish us even if we’ve never made it that way before. And sometimes we’re smiling at each other between bites, with a knowing look that the toast is burnt or the rice wasn’t fully cooked or you should have waited one more minute before flipping that pancake. And it’s okay.

As people of faith, our belief in a God of transformation and possibility tells us that both hurt and hope are OK and real. We can both feel the helplessness of this moment and continue digging deep to discern what a worldwide pandemic asks of us. We can both mourn the loss of loved ones and be present to those still here who are suffering. We can feel the pain of separation and continue to decide each day to self-isolate out of care for the most vulnerable among us.

In living this hurt and hope, the bread of our lives is broken, but that means there are more pieces to share. And in that breaking, we find new recipes that we may someday remember and even pass down. We nourish one another in ways we never thought possible.


This article originally appeared in the Global Sisters Report.

Tracey Horan is a member of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She is the education coordinator at the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico.

Why Lolo Jones Is for Real

Why Lolo Jones Is for Real

CLEARING LIFE’S HURDLES: Lolo Jones on Aug. 6, 2012, during an Olympic preliminary race for the 100-meter hurdles. She hopes to prove wrong the critics who are asking whether she’s more flash than substance. (Photo: Splash News/Newscom)

On Twitter, Lolo Jones sports a playful sense of humor, making jokes about her love life and Olympic adventures, and sometimes sparking controversy.

Her Twitter following skyrocketed after she talked about her decision to save sex for marriage in a May interview on HBO’s Real Sports, gaining herself about 20,000 more followers in four days. Jones has said her purity commitment is rooted in her Christian faith.

As she competed in the women’s 100-meter hurdles this week, Jones found herself in the spotlight again, and media outlets haven’t forgotten the buzz surrounding her virginity. The New York Times wrote about it this past weekend in a controversial article, provocatively titled “For Lolo Jones, Everything Is Image,” which suggested Jones was playing up her virginity, beauty, and poor upbringing for undeserved media attention. That piece has since come under fire.

But despite doubts that her athletic ability warranted attention, the 30-year-old track star came just shy of a medal on Tuesday, August 7, placing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. Of course that fourth-place finish held little consolation for Jones, who had come so close to a gold medal four years earlier in Beijing before clipping the second-to-last hurdle and falling out of medal contention. Many viewed London as her chance for redemption — or at least that was the narrative that the media played up. Time magazine, for instance, recently featured her as one of three Olympians on the cover of their Olympics special issue and wrote about her trip-up in “Lolo’s No Choke.”

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s outcome fell short of a storybook ending. “I’ll definitely be reading my Bible and try to grasp the positives and see what God has to teach me from all this,” Jones said after the finals. “That’s the only way I feel I can get rebalanced right now, because I am so broken-hearted.”

Without fail, crude jokes about Jones’s virginity lit up Twitter and other social media following her loss.

Faith in the Public Eye

The New York Times wasn’t the first to criticize Jones for talking about her virginity or using sex appeal. TMZ made fun of her virginity. Others also questioned if her ESPN body issue photo compromised her values. On May 25, Jones tweeted in response:

“go to a museum & look at naked pictures/statues of ppl & its considered art but what I did is not? u see no parts exposed” and later, “Ryan hall is another christian. He’s done missions in africa & posed in latest issue. Shall u judge him as well? John 8:7”

Some suggested she date fellow Christian virgin Tim Tebow, to which Jones had a witty tweet: “Ask Tebow if he wants a glass of milk. If he says yes, ask him if he prefers chocolate. if he says no, then no more Tebow date suggestions.”

Jones is African American, Native American, French and Norwegian.

COLORFUL PERSONALITY: In interviews and on Twitter, Jones has been known to be outspoken and irreverent in her comments, which has sometimes landed her in hot water. (Photo: Walter Bieri/Newscom)

Even before this current New York Times controversy, Jones had been stirring things up in the media while awaiting her race in London. Her recent tweet about the Olympic skeet shooting competition drew criticism in light of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting: “USA Men’s Archery lost the gold medal to Italy but that’s ok, we are Americans… When’s da Gun shooting competition?” Jones later tweeted that she had been referring to Americans’ experience with hunting.

Sometimes Jones tweets about her faith, such as on July 26: “As I arrive in London for the Olympics, I’m overwhelmed with emotions. Thank you Lord for another chance and for holding me as i waited.” She thanked people for praying for her on July 22, but after criticism, clarified that her prayer was “to be an inspiration & to honor God,” not to win a gold medal.

“I never have prayed to win a gold medal at Olympics and never will,” Jones tweeted. “The Lord is my Shepard and I shall not want. May His will be done.”

Bonding Through Struggle

In her Real Sports interview, Jones said saving sex for marriage has been “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, harder than training for the Olympics.”

But outside the spotlight, Jones tells how her Christian faith has sustained her through her struggles, and how her sister Angie Jefferson has encouraged her along the way.

Jones wrote about her older sister in an essay for the O.C. Tanner Inspiration Award, which recognizes a person who has inspired an Olympian to succeed. In it, Jones quoted Romans 9:12, “The older will serve the younger,” and wrote, “Angie is my reminder from God to stop at never.”

Growing up poor, Jones learned how to shoplift TV dinners and make a quick escape if she needed to, according to Time. Her family moved around frequently, and was at one point rendered homeless, living in a Salvation Army church basement.

Money was tight, but Jones has told stories about how her mother and sister helped her succeed. In a Procter & Gamble video series, “Raising an Olympian,” Jones said, “My mom would always try to do by any means necessary to make sure that we had what we needed. I definitely do not think I’d be going for this dream had I not seen her pick herself up so many times and keep fighting for us.”

STOPPING AT NEVER: Jones credits her sister for helping her develop a persevering spirit.

Meanwhile, her sister Angie Jefferson, then a teenager, recognized her talent and bought Jones her first running gear — which Jones said in her essay saved her the embarrassment of wearing old clothes.

When Jones moved across the country to go to Louisiana State University, Jefferson was again there for her sister through visits and tearful phone calls.

“Life was hard because the ghosts of my childhood were still there,” Jones wrote in her essay. “But thankfully, so was [Angie] — constantly reminding me there wasn’t anything I couldn’t overcome and survive with God’s help.”

Now, Jefferson serves as Jones’s manager. She encouraged her when Jones faced spine surgery a year ago. “It’s going to be okay,” Jefferson said, according to Jones’s essay. “I have a peace about Dr. Bray and his ability to help you. We are going to pray for God’s favor and trust God to take care of you.”

Jones wrote that she remembers seeing her sister with her prayer journal before a January 2012 race. It gave her a sense of peace. After Jones’s victory, the sisters hugged and cried together.

“It was a moment that words can’t express, a bond that together, can overcome anything,” Jones wrote.

On Monday, before her qualifying race in London, Jones was seen mouthing Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Even after Tuesday’s disappointing result, one suspects she’ll continue to hold onto that truth.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to address the results of Jones’s finals race on Tuesday, August 7.