Confession: I’ve never made pap by myself.
Pap (pronounced like “pop”) is made with water and finely ground cornmeal. It is a base for meals for many of South Africa’s cultures.
It looks like mashed potatoes but is more firm and scooped into your hands with stew, beans or some sort of saucy meat. It is the most intense form of carb-loading you’ve ever known!
I’ve lived in South Africa for almost 8 years and have never made the traditional staple food on my own! Before moving to Cape Town, I spent my time in rural communities where the grannies with the BIG SPOONS made pap in bulk. There was just no need for me to make it, and my spoon wasn’t big enough.
|Little Lifa helping at after school feeding programs.|
Lifa used to chow down on his own culture’s food while we ministered, played and celebrated in community ministry. But now that we live a two day drive away from his culture of origin, he doesn’t have that opportunity.
That kid loves all types of food (unless he can see basil on his food). He has expanded his palette since moving to Cape Town into the beautiful worlds of sushi and chimichangas. He’s also pushed his limits this year by hiking to new heights (first with an escalator and then a mountain!), swim lessons, new schools, new city, new languages, new everything.
We decided to celebrate Lifa last night. Not for taking on his fear of heights or doing anything unusually super. Just for being Lifa. Sometimes you need to be reminded that you are great because were created with greatness, and that’s enough.
On Monday night, we told him we were going to have pap, beans, cabbage and beetroot for dinner the next night. And he could eat it with his hands. His eyes lit up, and he said, “It’s like it’s a birthday dinner!”
To which I immediately responded: “Or a Tuesday!”
Chris looked at that bright-eyed boy and said, “We are celebrating you, Lifa! We are celebrating who you are, the culture you come from, and the foods you like to eat with your dad.”
There is freedom in celebration. Freedom to eat with your hands and be yourself. It’s like coming home to the place where you don’t have to be anything but you, and you are good. That’s what you were made for.
(That’s why I love birthdays -a yearly excuse to celebrate someone just because they are. No reason required! And you get cake for being you!)
It took me two attempts to make pap last night, but Lifa said I nailed it. He was so happy. He ate until he almost exploded and was a huge, beany mess. It was glorious!
It wasn’t his birthday. It was Tuesday.
I think instead of loving birthdays, I’m going to start loving Tuesdays.
(For the record: I will also always love birthdays.)
My husband inspired me this week to not need a reason to celebrate.
Just celebrate. Just Tuesday. (Tuesday, the verb.)
What if we picked somebody to celebrate every Tuesday?
Or what if we just celebrated because it’s Tuesday?
The Kingdom of God has come, and it’s coming. Just like Tuesdays.
Let’s celebrate what is, and usher in the rest with our gratitude and messy hands. Let’s not wait for the right-sized spoons or a birthday.
Freedom doesn’t come with big spoons or birth dates. And joy doesn’t come from circumstances. They are found together, at the table and by making an intentional choice.
Happy Tuesday-ing everyone!