split pea soup for the soul

I love cooking, and the holiday break presents time for greater exploration with new recipes. Yesterday, I checked off split pea soup from my list of meals to attempt.

It was phenomenal (if I can say so myself). The fresh ham bone from the local farm stole the show, providing the missing ingredient to create a savory lunch (and dinner, and lunch today).

Whenever I see split pea soup on a menu or cooking website, I think of a dear friend, Bishop Ignatius (Iggy) Catanello.

During my college days and early years in Campus Ministry, I had my own “Tuesday with Morrie” with Iggy. We would gather often for a lunch at the local (and now closed) Fame Diner, which sat across the street from the Queens Campus of St. John’s University.

The diner was also just a few blocks distance from Holy Family Parish, where Iggy served as pastor. It was a convenient location for two friends to meet. Judging by how Iggy was treated each time by the diner staff, it was clear that this establishment was a suitable second home for his ministry.

Iggy always ordered the same thing: split pea soup, usually followed by a sandwich. During this meal, he would intently listen, gently offer examples of faith, and fill my cup with affirmations and appreciation. I would leave these meals feeling incredibly blessed by this time spent with one I considered a living saint.

In my book, Dreams Come True: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life, I discuss Iggy’s impact on my life in further detail.

A number of years ago, Iggy passed into the next life. From time to time, I am reminded of our changed relationship. Yesterday, was one of those days.

As I broke gluten free bread into my bowl of split pea soup, I looked up at my wife, Suzie, and I said, “Iggy would have loved this soup.”

A few minutes later, I was telling my daughters that this day was the feast of Holy Family, in which Suzie smiled, saying “and that was Iggy’s parish.”

A tear filled the corner of my eye. As simple as it was, I was moved by this symmetry.

I could credit my subconscious for waiting to make this soup on the feast day, in which I can thank God for such a thoughtful part of the mind.

I prefer to point to the Holy Spirit, beyond the actions of my subconscious, recognizing how she moves through our lives and in our actions.

Albert Einstein wrote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

At times this year, I would have benefited from a restorative lunch with this old friend. Perhaps, in its own miraculous way, I received this gift yesterday.

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