The world has a great lexicon of what is called sacred music. Great cathedrals, basilicas and monasteries are considered sacred by many. People find the sacred at Flanders Field and at the monument at Pear Harbor. The grandeur of the mountains, the vastness of the oceans and the galaxy of stars provide the sacred to others. I found the sacred in chocolate chip cookies.
Tucked in a special cranny of my basement, a Tupperware container of chocolate chip cookies resided, untouched for five years. May daughter's boyfriend had made the cookies as a Valentine's gift. He endured a lot of teasing from family and friends over the care with which he painstakingly made the cookies as well as the other little gifts he gathered together to send his sweetheart, who was away at college. In each little gift he enclosed a sentimental or funny note, but always concluded with "I'll love you forever."
The package was wrapped and mailed, and then he died : in a freak, should-never-have-happened car accident. The girl, my daughter, received the package at her apartment after the wake and funeral : a bittersweet gift. She wore his favorite shirt that he had put in the box; but the rest was packed away to look at now and again in the future.
But the cookies : what to do with the cookies? She certainly couldn't eat them, though she could touch them, feeling the care from the hands that made them. She took them from place to place to place as she moved several times after graduation : this little green Tupperware bowl filled with an intimate reminder of her love. Finally they came to rest in my basement. I never opened the container in all those years; they were my daughter's and I honored her treasure. And then she died. She was buried next to "her" Bob.
Eventually I had to confront those cookies. What could I do with them? I could not simply throw them away in the garbage, to be taken to a landfill and then be burned and desecrated. Those cookies haunted me. It was on Thanksgiving morning when I finally knew what to do. I went in the basement and finally opened the cookie container. To my amazement, the cookies were still intact, though shriveled a little around the edges. The note was there also: "Sweets for my sweetheart" (how cheesy!) and "I'll love you forever."
That noon, my youngest daughter and I took the cookies to the cemetery where we met quite by coincidence, or perhaps not by coincidence, Bob's sister. Silently, the three of us took cookies in our hands and broke them into bite-size, communion-size pieces and scattered them on the graves: our brother, sister and daughter. "Made in love, cherished in love and now returned in love," I said. It was so quiet, a holy moment. Soon the birds, squirrels, ducks and geese would come to claim their fill. But at that moment in time, the cookies were as sacred as the moment, as was our witness, the Earth.