Sometimes, in the midst of life and its mysterious happenings, it can seem frivolous to me to sit down and write about things like Peach and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake. Just before I started this post, I received a text from my daughter telling me about a young friend’s husband who had just passed from cancer. He leaves behind two young children and a heartbroken young wife—and of course, a mom and dad who are reeling from a loss which no parent should ever have to bear.
All around us people are dealing with trying and heartbreaking circumstances. A dear friend of ours just lost her mom to cancer after a recent diagnosis. Another friend is out in California undergoing surgery for cancer.
A close family member is fighting valiantly through extremely difficult treatments for cancer.
Trying times are not limited to sickness. A friend sent a request for prayers today for someone who is in the midst of a custody battle due to a young drug addicted mother. My heart breaks for that family, not just the children and the father, but for that young mother who may never know the true joy of motherhood because she is caught up in the indisidious spiral of addiction.
And other friends are struggling to process the sudden loss of their grown son, which happened almost a year to the day in which they lost all of their worldly possessions in a house fire.
And so, if you are not sick, not directly grieving, not personally going through challenging times, what do you do for people you care about who are hurting? Do you feel guilt because you are not experiencing those things currently? Should you? I certainly don’t have answers.
All I know to do is to pray for those who are hurting, always be grateful and mindful of my own blessings, and try not to miss an opportunity to offer comfort or help someone, whether through food, a card, a prayer, or just a text that says I care.
On my desk right beside my computer, I have two photos: one of my three children, grown, smiling, happy. The other is me, holding our precious grandson on the day of his birth. My own life is full of joy and amazing blessings right now—but I know that can and will change. None of us get out of this life alive and none of us will escape experiencing sorrow, pain, fear, sadness.
You never know when it is coming, but you know that it is, someday.
Did you see the movie Shadowlands, about the life of C.S. Lewis? I saw it many years ago but a line resonated with me and remains ever present in my mind. As he and his wife, Joy, were discussing her cancer and impending death, she said, “We can’t have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That’s the deal.” And at the end of the movie, after her death, he turned her words around with the following:
Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”
Today, I am saddened for my friend who is grieving her mother; saddened for Mal’s friend who is grieving her husband; fearful for the parents of those young boys who are still missing on the ocean somewhere. And I am mindful and grateful for my own precious family, for health, for love. So grateful.
The takeaway for the living is to LIVE and living means eating, laughing, drinking, crying, sharing, loving, sitting around the kitchen table Doing Life Together. That is what we do.
That is why we’re here. Pain. Happiness. Happiness. Pain. That’s the deal.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Copyright @ 1990 by Mary Oliver.
Peach and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2-3 cups fresh fruit: sliced peaches blueberries, plums, nectarines, raspberries, or blackberries
- 1 cup cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9-inch round baking pan or skillet. Pour melted butter into prepared dish and add brown sugar. Stir together.
- Arrange peach slices and blueberries in single layer over the sugar.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside. In large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Add sour cream, beating until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low until blended.
- Pour batter over fruit and smooth with a spatula. Bake about 40 minutes, until center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Pour any remaining juices over the top.
- Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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