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What's in Your Soup?

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Tue, 07/21/2020 - 13:57

Vegetable soup is simmering in the crock pot. It's a summer day, and it's hot outside. But I am in an air conditioned house, where I have been sheltering since March. I do go outside, but not when it's too hot or too windy. I'm lucky. I have a wonderful garden where I can putter, or walk, or sit. Occasionally a few family members come to visit my husband and me there and we keep a safe distance from them. I used to venture out for a walk around the block, but I have stopped doing that. Too many people are out without masks, and with no care for keeping safe. So I stay home. Everyone who can, should stay home to stay safe.

And, perhaps simmer some vegetable soup. Do you have a good recipe?

Hiding from this unseen enemy is the best way to avoid attack. We are at high risk, they say, so we stay home. We stay in our garden. We order groceries online for delivery, and when they come we leave them on the porch for awhile before we bring them in. We remove them from their bags (so many bags are accumulating, they have to bring you new ones each time) and wipe the items down as best we can to 'disinfect' them. We put them away, and wash our hands. Again. Are we being overly cautious? Nobody really knows. At least the zucchini for my soup came right from my own garden.

Nobody seems to have reliable information about this invisible enemy. Sometimes we are told the virus lives on surfaces for a long time, but nobody really knows for how long or which surfaces are the most vulnerable. So we wash our hands. We try not to touch our faces. I make dinner preparations. Today it's vegetable soup, simmering now. With zucchini from the garden.

We wait for some encouraging news about the subsiding of the high tide of cases, the high tide of ICU patients, the high tide of death. News breaks all the time, all over us. More cases, not just old people. Young people and children are vulnerable. This virus, like the tide, is not discriminatory in any reliable way. And the news doesn't stop with medical updates.

Protests are at high tide, too. So many of society's deep problems have been exposed while this high tide keeps coming in. Ironic, isn't it? That a high tide should expose so much? But there it is. Poverty, climate change, hunger, homelessness are all floating there borne on this high tide, no longer hidden. Many people have no place to shelter, no way to work, no medical care. Some are drowning in debt, losing the homes they have, the businesses they worked so hard to establish swept away. Many have nothing to eat. Yet I make soup. What else can I do?

vegetable soup

Yes, we donate whatever we can to organizations working to meet needs all over this bruised and battered world. We sign petitions, we write letters, we vow to vote to bring the change so desperately needed in the face of all that's so desperately wrong. I often feel hopeless in the midst of all this tragedy. We all feel helpless. And sometimes I feel guilt -- or is it regret?

I regret that I didn't do more to change things when I was young, when I had the energy and the will to work long and hard for a cause, a campaign. I did do some, but was it enough? I've marched in protest of war, organized picketing, fought for fairness. But obviously it wasn't enough to make radical change. It barely moved the needle towards justice. Did it matter? I wonder as I stir the simmering soup -- will there ever be enough change to heal our world, to give our children and grandchildren what is so rightly theirs?

My recipe for vegetable soup is never the same. I can't stick to just one way of doing things. Have I done that with my whole life? If I'd been more persistent, more careful, more measured with what I put on my calendar, if I'd followed a more structured recipe for living, would it have made more of a difference? Maybe. Maybe not.

Did I add enough onion to my soup this time?

I am encouraged by all the young people I see around me who are determined to repair what generations before them have destroyed. I am hopeful that they will find ways to fit the many working pieces of living to move with wise and thoughtful direction, in careful and loving ways that heal. I will do everything I can to support them, to support their struggle, to build what has been destroyed. I will recognize that what they choose to do and how they carry it out may not be anything I understand. But that doesn't matter. 

Maybe, in the end, everything that goes into their soup will be more than enough for everyone. Maybe they will find the perfect recipe. 

For now, my soup simmers. I'll add some dill, I think.