The Company of Onions

This morning the rains came, waking me before the usual hour, calling me out of dreams. I crept to the window in the dark and watched the wind sing into the shadow trees—the ways they bend and move to her strumming an invitation to my lonely soul. Who knows what whispers are carried in those invisible hands? A morning storm is a love dance.
Soon, the boys are up—gobbling breakfast, filling these rooms with their deep voices. I look at them like strangers these days, until my youngest bends slightly and kisses me on the cheek. They are discovering who they are, letting things like girls and friends, and the words of others shape them. I am fighting hard to let this happen, to trust God and his good plan.
After they leave for school, I get out the stock pot and begin chopping the onion … carrots … celery. Someone I care about has been ill and this is the way to give love a shape—something I can place in her hands, in a bowl; something that will nourish and warm from the inside out. I let the thyme and bay leaves infuse the olive oil before adding the other vegetables, stirring until a steady perfume fills the kitchen. When I add the onion, I remember Fr.Robert Farrar Capon’s words from his book The Supper of the Lamb, “Onions are excellent company,” he says.  I know it’s true and I am grateful for a reason to cry in their presence. It all simmers together in the pot now, my fingertips the scent of garlic, and I wonder if cooking with tears adds a depth of flavor.
I am thinking about the day after I returned from Jubilee—a conference where over two thousand college students worshiped and prayed and listened and learned together. I am thinking about how—that evening—I sat at the dinner table with my two teenage sons and opened my hands to receive their hearts. The image of all those young people, faces shining for Jesus, still burned fresh in my mind, and my boys break my heart with the careless way they handle the holy.  But I bite my tongue, knowing God is writing their stories, not I. And I try not to feel that I’ve failed, that I am failing them and myself, but it’s difficult to do as we sit, just the three of us, making lofty conversation about God. This is the hardest thing, this opening my hand to these young lives I have held close to my breast.
The house is filled with the fragrance of the soup that simmers on the stove and the wind has died down outside. And I am grateful for the excellent company of onions.



  1. smoothstones says

    I feel this. My big kid’s just-14, choosing his freshmen classes, and I’m terrified. I’m also thinking of the comprehensive exams for which I refused to study, as a senior in college, saying: “If I don’t know it by now…,” and I think it’s somewhat the same w/ these teens. You pour in and pour in and pray over, and if you’re blessed you watch them dipped under those waters of baptism, and you just have to trust that it’s in there. I passed the comps (even if barely), and I’ll see him become who he should in the Lord, too, I reckon. Praying for you. I wish you’d call; do you have my phone number?

  2. says

    Brandee, I would love to talk sometime–I thought I had your number (when we were trying to meetup in WV?) but I can’t find it now. It’s been a difficult week with one child in particular, but even difficult must be taken in context. I have two good boys. Here’s something my husband sent me that I think you might enjoy :):

    This email is free from viruses and malware because avast! Antivirus protection is active.

  3. Nancy Sturm says

    This is so beautiful, Laura. As the mother of three grown children, I understand. Our job is to raise them to become independent adults, but letting go is so hard! I thank God my three follow him, and rejoice in the time I get to spend with them. God bless you in this journey.

  4. Jody Ohlsen Collins says

    Laura, you capture perfectly the bittersweet tension of how we hold our children and must let them go to God. Wow.

  5. says

    I cling to words my kids’ youth group leader shared with me as she watched her own children grow to adulthood. She said, “There are chapters in my children’s stories I wish weren’t there. But I have to remember, it’s not finished yet. And I’m not the One writing it.”

    Something tells me, whenever I find myself chopping and simmering onions, I will find myself called to prayer by the memory of this post.

  6. pastordt says

    Gorgeous, Laura. And I understand these mixed emotions so very well. My ‘boy’ is now a fully grown man with children of his own, and I still find myself aching over ways in which I wish I’d done my job a bit better. None of us is perfect – but grace has an amazing way of filling in the cracks, you know?

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