I am writing this post beneath the bedsheets, a pillow the desk for my laptop and the gentle whir of the air freshener my steady soundtrack and background noise. This November 18, as bright sunlight bounces off the white walls of our bedroom and the side window frames golden leaves dancing against a clear, blue sky, the barely lingering effects of head congestion seem almost an affront to the autumn beauty around me. Yesterday, we walked a nearby park to get our blood moving, keeping a purposeful pace alongside crimson maple leaves waving at us from the path, long toddler legs bouncing in the stroller, 80-degree heat warming my arms and legs. Having a few symptoms of a cold, whether it’s because of allergies or as a reaction to a cleanse, is nothing dramatic or earth-shattering, but, coughing through tea with a friend or blowing your nose during dinner does serve a ready reminder of something bigger, larger, deeper that I think our hearts know to be true.
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen,” says Frederick Buechner. His words bear as much resonance when you’re tired in November as they do when you’re watching news reports or sitting with deep sorrow in any time of life. Though his very next instruction is “do not be afraid,” fear is indeed exactly the default response. Whose heart doesn’t cry “no!” to the bad, false, ugly happenings around us, in some way, somehow? Who doesn’t want to grit your teeth through difficulty, pressing forward to the better days ahead? Yet life is laced with difficulty. It would be wrong to pretend otherwise. As a friend of mine said recently, “enjoy every stage of life,” even the hard bits because, in some ways, they’re all the hard bits.
And yet: when I get sick, I hope to be well. When I feel loss, I hope for things to be made right. In a thousand moments and various realities, my heart longs to experience redemption, because it’s for redemption that my very soul was made. We know life has tragedy, and we face it, but of course we hope beyond it.
One night this past week, I had the chance to watch along with Rabbit Room Live, a single-evening event here in the area that featured beautiful stories and songs celebrating, in many ways, this very idea. At the tail end of the night, Sara Groves performed her song “Why It Matters,” after describing the musician in a war-town town who inspired it. This man played music (a cello? a violin?) throughout the city, amongst the rubble, as what she described “a protest of beauty.” In response to the bad, the ugly, the painful around him, he didn’t ignore it or hide from it, but he responded to it by making beauty, celebrating melody, in a deep and meaningful lament.
That is why I think ordinary routines are worth celebrating in this crazy world, why I keep this place online, why today I pulled out my camera to take photos of my husband’s get-well tonic that he made me yesterday and again this morning. I think there’s more to fresh, homemade juice in the Vitamix than an escape from difficulty. I think making art–and dinner and breakfast–affirms meaning, as Madeleine L’Engle writes, in spite of the ambiguities and misunderstandings and tragedies that surround us. Choosing to put together ingredients, perform the labor of making a meal and wanting to do it with beauty says something. It reacts against all that is lazy and broken and hard. It takes your two hands and uses them to make, in a world of ugliness, in a world of despair, in a world where we are daily assaulted with temptation to lose hope, something that is beautiful and good. These are my acts of protest, in the small place in the world into which I am currently placed, and I intend to keep making them somehow, somewhere, always, with all my heart.
Pomegranate Melon Apple Aloe Juice
Makes about a quart
After Tim handed me a tall glass of this juice yesterday morning, I felt an immediate boost of energy and clear-headedness, which is one of those side benefits of nutrient-dense food and especially drinks. Refreshing, sweet and easy for the body to digest, this drink gets nourishment to your systems quickly–and you feel it.
If you’re new to the idea of making juice in the Vitamix, it’s no big deal. You just strain the mixture after blending, so you remove the thick pulp. If you don’t want to waste the pulp, there are all kinds of resources online for using it in recipes. I haven’t done a lot with that to recommend, but I’m all ears to your suggestions if you have!
4 pomegranates, seeded (or 2 cups arils or 1 cup pomegranate juice)
1/2 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 3 cups chopped melon)
1 cup (8 ounces) organic apple juice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) aloe gel
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
Juice of half a lime
optional: a peeled 1/2-inch knob of ginger, roughly chopped
Put all the ingredients in your Vitamix or other high-powered blender, and puree on high until completely smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer into a bowl, giving it time (5 minutes or so) to strain fully, and pour into glasses. Enjoy!
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.