I believe deeply in the healing power of soup.
Whether you have a broken arm or a broken heart, homemade soup can start to bring you wholeness and healing in every step of its process — chopping ingredients, simmering them on the stove, tasting and adjusting the recipe, and then, finally, sharing the soup with someone you love.
Whether it’s because of the flu, deaths in our extended family, or work deadlines, my friend and neighbor Susy has shown up at my doorstep with soup more times than I can count. Susy’s love language is a pot of something hot and delicious: sometimes baked bean, sometimes chicken noodle. Always nutritious and healing.
But this time, it was my turn to show up.
As the crow flies, we live about five minutes from Susy, but to drive to her house it takes about forty minutes. Recently, our area has been through the ringer. Like us, Susy’s family went through the 100-year storm that happened up here in the Sierra mountains, dumping multiple feet of snow on our homes and causing a ten-day power outage.
We were lucky enough to be rescued by our firefighter neighbor, who had much better equipment than we did. After that, we dug snowboards out of our barn and sledded our five chickens to the truck to go stay with my mom.
Right after the storm, both our household and Susy’s came down with COVID. But Susy — not one to be outdone — was walking down the stairs one day, stumbled, and heard a pop. She had broken an ankle.
Today, even though it has been a hard couple of weeks with the storms and recovering from COVID, I am the person currently in possession of two intact ankles. So I will pull out my trusty red soup pot, start browning some ground turkey, gather the rest of my ingredients, and make a chili that will not only feed my family, but also Susy’s and our next-door neighbor Patrick, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. That’s the good thing about a soup — add some broth and it can stretch to feed more people.
I wish I could do more for Susy. If I could, I’d take some of her work pressures off or help her heal more quickly.
I wish we could do more for Patrick, who has helped us move appliances, dig our guests out of mud pits, and has mentored us as we’ve learned about mountain life.
I wish we could do more for our firefighter neighbor Paul, who dug us out of the snow and protected our house during a fire last summer.
But today, all I have is soup.
For years, I have been the person who has had grand intentions. I can come up with great ideas to help my hurting friend, like organizing a fundraiser or starting a meal train so they can be fed for weeks. I want to be that person who’ll do whatever they need, whenever they need it.
But more times than I’d like to remember, my grand plans turned into good intentions that never saw reality.
Sometimes, when life is at its hardest, we can’t manage a grandiose gesture. But most of the time, we can all bring soup.
Of course, your soup may look different than mine.
For some, like my husband, it’s fixing a computer for our friend who isn’t tech savvy.
Our neighbor Paul? His soup is showing up with a plow to rescue some stranded neighbors.
In James 2:15-17, we are not asked to take on all of another’s burden but to meet the needs we see in front of us. James asks us to make a humble offering:
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
We all have something we can give that will not necessarily fix someone else’s life situation but will still yield valuable results.
When we show up with our offering, we say, “I’m with you.” Meeting someone’s physical need touches on a spiritual need and shows our care for them in the here and now.
Also, generosity is contagious. Susy’s example has led to my own “mountain ministry.” I can’t get a fallen tree off your house or dig you out of the snow, but I can make you a hot meal.
When we present a humble offering, we give something practical and immediate. It doesn’t take a committee or a lot of planning. It’s just a simple gesture that goes a long way to bless someone and ease their struggle.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, An Abundant Place by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory is a daily retreat for women who can’t get away. Get your copy today!