Gingerbread Foundations

Last week we went to North Carolina for thanksgiving. Our daughter lives there with our two grandchildren and it was decided that we would all go there this year. Our son in law is deployed to Turkey this year so she is a single parent for the next few months and we though that it would be easier on them if we did the traveling.

You might be asking yourself what this has to do with today’s readings, I am getting to that in just a minute.

My daughter lives in the small town of Southern Pines just outside of Ft. Bragg and this little town has all of the feeling of a small southern town and none of the Army Post feel. Every year they have a gingerbread making competition and for some reason our grandkids had their heart set on submitting an entry this week. Southern Pines has an old train station in the center of town and it was decided that our entry would be the Southern Pines Polar Express depot. My job was to make the gingerbread structure and their job was to decorate it.
In my typical fashion I was on it. I researched making unique structures out of gingerbread, found recipes for structural grade icing and built a model out of cardboard in order to have patterns for cutting the sheets of gingerbread.

In case you were wondering, after you cook the gingerbread for half of its time you can pull it out and cut out all of the shapes before putting it back in the oven for the final bake. And it is like cutting through butter with a warm knife.

Everything was going according to plan, we made the wall and roof panels, we had the decorative supports and the roof awnings, so we started the construction. Walls up … check, roofs on … check, supports on … check. And for the final touch I made extra icing so that we could apply icing roof shingles over the entire roof.

All was done and ready for the decorations. We set it aside for the night proud of what we had accomplished. When we came down in the morning all that was left was a pile of gingerbread panels. In all of my figuring I had forgotten to figure the weight of icing shingles on cookie walls. It had all collapsed.

While I was disappointed, I chalked it up to a learning experience and told the grand kids that we would do one twice as big next year. My daughter had different ideas. Once we left, she resurrected the debris, reinforced it with melted chocolate and had the kids finish the most amazing gingerbread train station.

After reading today’s Gospel parable I realized that I was not vested in the completion of the gingerbread house. It was a challenge, it was exciting, but I had built my commitment on the academic exercise. My daughter had built her commitment on the love of her children and their happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandchildren very much, but I had forgotten that in favor of a building project. How tall could it be, how much could it overhang, how cool could it look, all of these had become the foundation of my measurement for success. My daughter saw only the disappointment in the eyes of her children. Her measurement for success was their getting to decorate an entry in the Southern Pines Gingerbread House competition.
Today’s gospel says, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” She was building this train station on the rock of love for her children. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the train station. And although it might have collapsed it was not lost for it had been set solidly on love.

I had, on the other hand, been like a fool who built his train station on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.

In the first reading we are reminded that we should “Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.”
Yesterday they took their entry down to the town hall where it will sit until after the holidays. Who knows if they will win, that is not the point. From the row of gumdrops on the roof ridge, to the candy canes in the building corners I can never again forget today’s verse from Isiah 55:6
Seek the lord while he may be found: call him while he is near. Even if He is only near enough to see the smiles on the faces of those that get to decorate gingerbread train stations

MT 7: 21, 24-27

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.

December 2, 2021

December 2, 2021

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