lenten journal: garlic


Our church has a gathering each Wednesday night during Lent and they asked me to prepare the meals. I spent the day working on soups and bread and dessert for sixty and, after sitting here at the computer for some time now trying to keep my promise, I have found the words elusive, other than having the word garlic stuck in my head, even as the house still smells like it. So I found my way to a poem, once I gave in to the aroma of the evening.


I have spent the day
working with my hands,
and not with words.
I have chopped and sliced,
measured and stirred,
sautéed and simmered,
all on my way to soup.
The church supper is long
over, and my kitchen
still smells like garlic.
I have spent the last two
hours staring at a screen,
typing lost drafts, trying
to force ideas to ripen.
I should have something
profound to offer and
I do not, other than to
say I wish I knew words
that smelled like garlic.
That would be enough.



  1. Milton, this year our church split the congregation into 4 sections of Denver, CO, to meet in homes. I offered to host my section of town. The church offered to bring soup and salad for hostesses; but I decided to save my beloved church the money and have enjoyed cooking for our group. Tonight we had 17 and each shared his or her FIRST experience of ‘community.’ We really got better acquainted. I feel like I know members of my church so much better! We have a very young ministerial staff at the moment and they are so creative! They DO come up with numerous ideas that require their energy, though!
    I just realized that you are in Durham, NC. My husband and I are NC natives and summer on 88 acres between Banner Elk and Valle Crucis. Do you ever get up there during the summer? Would dearly love meeting you! We return end of April and are there until 3rd wk of Oct., when we return to CO to winter with the kids and grandGIFTS.

    • Drema,

      What a wonderful note and what a great thing your church did. I love the idea of rearranging the furniture, if you will, to help us see each other better. We did live in Durham. We moved to Connecticut about four months ago for Ginger to pastor here in Guilford, outside of New Haven. But if I’m ever near Banner Elk in the summer time, I’ll stop by.


Leave a Reply