Thursday, April 17, 2008

Healing at the Hermitage Grill

Anyone who tells you that there is no theological significance to be found in beer battered onion rings should not be trusted.

But first, today's update:

* My adorable physical therapist ripped both my arms off at the shoulder blades, scratched her back with my detached limbs, and then stuck them back on with duct tape. Or so it seemed to me.

* The ancient dog continues to go in the back yard, frolic, bark, rest, return inside, and poop at my feet.

* The other ancient dog is getting ideas.

* Toddler daughter asked a stranger in passing if he had a willie.

* 5 year old son played the board game "Life" at a bookstore after school. Proprietor of bookstore insisted that he could only marry a wife in the game, not a husband. My son protested the rest of the game by referring to her as "Stupid Wife."

*The doctor's office did not call back with test results.

Back to the onion rings.

My loyal readers and congregants know that my grandmother lives next door and has dementia. She has lost a lot of weight. She has also lost her nouns and most of her sense of humor. The weight seems to be the only thing we can help with. Today is one of my lunch days with her.

"Janie Belle, would you like to go to Shoney's or a little restaurant I like?" I holler at her. She has also lost one of her hearing aids.

Meanwhile I am thinking, "Why did I offer Shoney's? Why? Why? Why..."

"The little..."she stammers. Thank God.

We went to the Hermitage Grill (HG) off of Dumbarton in Lakeside. I have always liked the HG, but it is a tough place to go with kids so I don't get there much these days. It is small, occasionally packed, and occasionally noisy which adds up for too much risk when taking kids out- even though they like it. Why I thought this would work for a hungry grandma with dementia I do not know...

Except that it did. We arrived around 1 which meant the first shift had already eaten. Janie Belle managed to put a sentence together: There are only men here. She then smiled and even giggled a little.

She was able to point to what she wanted from the menu after I narrowed down the options: crabcake sandwich and onion rings. I got the chili and a salad.

You know, lunch isn't usually a magic meal for me. I eat lunch out often and I am also usually muti-tasking by having a meeting. Lunch is satisfying but not inspiring. With the exception of my birthday lunch, I don't go into the midday meal with my hopes lifted high. I just need to eat.

Except for today. Was it my gratitude that my arms had been re-attached? Was it that the male to female ratio was exactly to Janie Belle's liking and she wouldn't stop smiling about it? Was it the perfectly fresh veggies on the salad or the spicy but healthy chili? I don't know.

All I know is that I had eaten half my lunch and was feeling grateful for the restaurant, the small gathering of people at tables around us, the beautiful weather. I was relieved that grandma could talk a little and was chowing down on her crabcake. The pain I've been suffering from had abated just enough, and then she passed me an onion ring. I took one bite and I wanted to cry.

Here's my basic theology. There are very small pieces of perfection hidden in the chaos, pain, and harsh elements of our world. These tiny things are divine.

Reflections of divine? Evidence of divine presence? Demi-gods? Miracles? My goal is not to name them. My goal is not to overthink and tear them apart with my reason and logic. When I am lucky enough to stumble across one, my role in my own theology is to ...

Let myself be moved.
Share it with others.

I ate the onion ring. Not greasy. Still warm. And I could taste the beer in the batter. I looked at my grandmother. She looked at me. We both smiled. "Isn't that good?!" she asked. As clear as could be, she said it. If ours was a more miracle friendly religion, I'd be sending people to the Hermitage Grill for the healing power of the onion rings. They give the speechless words. They take away aches and pain.

As it is, let me just thank some old pals who are associated with the good old Hermitage Grill. Boys, that was the nicest lunch I've had in a long time. Thank you.

(For the record: The FDA has not approved the use of onion rings in the treatment of alzheimer's, dementia, or rheumatoid arthritis. Any benefits or side effects of onion rings have not been clinically proven. The Unitarian Universalist Association neither promotes nor rejects the divine properties of the Hermitage Grill, beer-battered onion rings, or removing a minister's arms.

The proprietors and staff of the Hermitage Grill do not promote the healing and mystical properties of their onion rings. They do, however, believe that you will never ever get another cold if you drink Jaegermeister. There are only four people on this planet who have convinced me to drink Jaegermeister. Three of them are connected to the HG. In light of the onion rings, I hereby forgive them for the Jaegermeister.)


ms. kitty said...


I'm a little sick of the cold I've had for three weeks; I think I'll try the Jaegermeister.

Lizard Eater said...

A really fine onion ring is religious bliss. It's round, it's hot, it holds dharma and kerygma and yin and yang.

Now ...

Is your Gran's middle name REALLY Belle? Really, truly???

It is THE middle name on my maternal side. It is my grandmother's middle name, great-great-Aunt's middle name, my mother's middle name and Bo Peep's middle name.

(Hushed with awe)

We ARE twins ...

ogre said...

We don't believe in miracles. They still happen now and then. Mysteriously... things line up and everything works....

Glad to hear about it all. Particularly the arms. I may need to borrow the adorable PT...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. I share your theology.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for shared theology, beautiful writing and all the awesomeness of your ministry of the blog...going on 8 years here, too...and it's sooo not like the plan, but worthy of a Jaeger shot nonetheless!