Ice Cream for the Soul

This August marks my second August as a resident of Warsaw. I have observed that, during the inbetween month of August in western New York, picnics appear to be a holy institution. Picnics are almost sacramental. The picnic foods of choice include barbequed anything, grilled everything, watermelon…and ice cream.

Picnics qualify as picnics only if ice cream is served.

And perhaps for good reason. Ice cream is widely regarded as a comfort food. Eating ice cream is almost medicinal.

A clergy colleague of mine shared a story with me that renders credibility to the curative powers of ice cream.

* * * * *

Last summer, I took my two young children to a restaurant.

My six year-old son, Colton, asked, “Mom, may I please say ‘grace’?”

I answered, “Sure, Colton.”

As we bowed our heads, Colton spoke aloud, “God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food. And I would thank you even more, God, if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!”

Colton’s prayer evoked hearty laughter from nearby customers. But I also heard a woman remark,

“That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream?

Why, I’ve never heard of anything so rude!”

Upon hearing the woman’s words, Colton burst into tears. He asked me, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?” 

I held my son gently. I assured him, “You did a fine job of praying, son. And, no, God is not angry with you.”

Less than a minute passed when an elderly gentleman approached our table. He winked at my son and
said, “I happen to know that God thought your prayer was a great prayer.”

“Really?” my son sniffed.

The gentleman replied with a theatrical whisper and gestured with his right hand across his chest, “Cross my heart.”

Then the gentleman pointed in the direction of the woman whose comment had instigated my son’s distress. He added, “Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul.”

The gentleman returned to his own table.

At the end of our meal together, I naturally bought ice cream for my two children.

Once the bowls of ice cream were brought to our table, Colton stared at his ice cream for a moment.

Then my son did something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Colton picked up his ice cream sundae. Without speaking a word, he walked over and placed it on the table in front of the woman who had grumbled earlier. With an earnest smile on his face, he told her, “Here. This is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes. And my soul is good already.”

* * * * *

Literally, ice cream can induce a cooling, calming sensation in the body.

Figuratively, ice cream can evoke a gentling, assuring awareness in the soul.

During the in-between month of August, may you treat your body to satisfying servings of ice cream.

During this in-between month of August, may you also consume ice cream for your soul. Spiritual ice cream may not necessarily come in 31 flavors. Ice cream for the soul may take the form of: lingering in moments of prayer, worshiping and fellowshipping on Sunday mornings, sharing in the Psalm Bible Study on Tuesday evenings, visiting a home-bound church member or marveling at a summer sunset.

In the month of August, few need to be urged to spoon up ice cream to their lips.

In this month of August, I urge you to spoon up ice cream for your soul…and simultaneously to nourish yourself “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara

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