Comfort Foods -- By Joseph J. Mazzella

It was a gray and gloomy November day. An icy rain was falling from the overcast sky. The bare trees were mourning their loss of leaves. I felt the day’s cold and darkness working its way into me as well. I zipped up my sweater to fight off the chill in my bones and said a prayer to keep the melancholy from creeping into my soul. I knew then just what I needed to warm up my insides and lift my spirits: a big bowl of vegetable soup.

I laughed as I walked over to the stove and turned the eye on. I smiled as I put the hearty portions of mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, green beans, and celery into the pot and stirred them slowly. The bubbling broth and rising steam brought back so many loving moments from my childhood. I remembered my Mom calling hot soup one of life’s great comforts. I remembered my sweet Italian Nana saying that it nourished the soul.

I sat down at the table with this steaming bowl of goodness and took my time blowing on each spoonful before savoring each bite. While I ate I quietly thought about all the other "comfort foods" that had filled my stomach and warmed my heart over the years. There was homemade bread, Sunday spaghetti dinners, birthday cake with ice cream, Provolone cheese, morning cereal, evening popcorn, and so many others. I knew, however, that it wasn’t the foods themselves, but rather Mom and Nana’s love that made them so special. When the world was at its coldest it was this love that kept me warmer than any blanket, sweater, or bowl of soup ever could. When the world was at its darkest it was this love that kept my childhood home full of light.

I hope that no matter how cold, dark, or hungry your days may feel at times you can still find God’s greatest comfort food: LOVE simmering on the stove in your heart. And I hope that you will always share a bowl of it with every starving soul you meet along the way.

Joseph J. Mazzella