By Sherri Bester. This recipe and essay appear in the Meals and Memories Cookbook, sales of which benefit the Odyssey Project.
I found myself thinking of Sherri’s writing when I posted about “the Right Word” earlier this week. Sherri’s writing, like April’s, dances with the conventions of written English. Her cadences call to mind the southern preachers who no doubt enjoyed Grand MaMa Dovie McMullin’s Good Old Fashioned Southern Communion Butter Bread.
Secret Family Recipe ( extra butter!!!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup butter
Cream butter, add sugar and eggs; mix baking soda with flour. Add salt. Roll into 1/8 inch thickness, pack into square pan. Score into 1 inch pieces. Bake at 375 degrees until slightly brown on top.
Ever since I was a little, black, nappy-headed girl running barefoot, wild and free throughout the tall grass fields of Greenville, Mississippi eating flowers (because I thought that it would, like it did the butterflies, make me more beautiful, safe, and pure deep down inside), I knew about this thing called love. It was my most deepest passionate rage of desire to love and to discover all of its most pleasurable and most painful truths. If I never reached the seemingly endless searching end of this lifetime goal of mine I knew that for me life would hold no truth, or fight, or purpose, or meaning. So it was love that I decided to seek above all things of life.
So while wild and free in love’s tight mysterious grip I grew up as a little girl of great wonder searching forever diligently, faithfully, and precisely chasing butterflies throughout the grass fields of the scorching red hot flames of Mississippi heat waves of breathtaking wonder. In all those days in the grass fields of hope, love and safety I grew up wild and free—always dancing just as graceful as all the butterflies spreading their wings to fly of the mystery and miracles of God’s greatest grip in the wild freedom of nature, I did somehow flourish in those grass fields of God’s great love.
It was on Communion Sunday where, when and why I discovered the truthful story of the deepest sacrifice of God’s great love. In the church pew in the scorching red hot flames of Mississippi heat waves I listened to the confident, passionate Southern drawl of the Pastor echo from the pulpit the holy, powerful, life-changing scriptures of old—Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and Corinthians 10… I sat there on the edge of my seat on the softly cushioned church pew so excited, squirming, watching in breathtaking awe, wonder, admiration, respect, and amazement. All the church Mothers wore their beautiful, clean, fresh, crisply-ironed white dresses and their huge, creative, flowery, white hats and their soft, perfumed, gentle, white touching gloves. They served my Grand Ma Ma Dovie McMullins’ prayed-over Good Old Fashioned Southern Communion Butter Bread to be dipped into that sweet, cold, life-quenching Welch’s grape juice.
These are some of the most beautiful words of my most favorite childhood memories: “The Lord took the bread and he broke it as he said do this in the remembrance of me for this here represents the body of the Lord which was broken for you in love, and then he took the cup and he filled it as he said take this and drink it for this here represents the blood of the Lord that was shed for you in love, bow your heads, reflect and remember in love. Now lift up your heads and let us always be grateful to God in love and now let us look up to the hills from which our help comes from and let us always pray in love.”
After all these years when I visit down South for family vacation, I still cherish those most precious memories of my childhood as if it was just yesterday. It is early Sunday morning before church service and I smell fresh Good Old Fashioned Southern Communion Butter Bread cooking and blowing like a whirlwind gently tickling across my reminiscing nostrils in the flaming heat waves of Mississippi madness, stilled by the overpowering calming of such divine peace by the strong, fresh, coolness of my Grandmother’s prayers whispered carefully, clearly and confidently. As my eardrums beat out a rhythm I reminisce, remember and reflect on those good old days of Grand Ma Ma Dovie McMullins in the kitchen sacrificing through Hell’s fire on those red hot heat flaming heat waves deep within Mississippi, madness lost in good old home cooking for Communion Sunday, which always ended with the most beautiful words of truth, beauty and love of God’s love.
Sherri Bester performing a Praise Dance at the Meals and Memories Story Share in 2009