Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yorkshire Parkin Cake

It was the Tuesday after Easter and Mother and Alfred were enjoying a mid-morning cup of St. Helene coffee, and a wee bit of Parkin; that moist, dark, Yorkshire cake, made of ginger, oatmeal, and black treacle molasses.

“Ah, Mother,” said Alfred, “What a treat! Did you know that Parkin is made with Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and Lyle’s Black Treacle Molasses? I have always been fascinated by the Lyles motto, “Out of the strong came sweetness.”

“That’s such an odd saying, Alfred,” said Mother. “Where does it come from?”

“Mother, I had wondered about the same thing. After a little research I discovered that it comes from the Book of Judges where Samson kills a lion and bees build a nest in the carcass. Samson comes by later and scoops out some honey from the carcass, then poses a riddle, “Out of the strong came something sweet.”          

            “How odd,” said Mother, taking a bite of her Yorkshire Parkin Cake. “My, that’s a strong flavor.”

            “Yes, indeed, Mother, one of many strong flavors,” said Alfred. “With joy, it is only one of many strong flavors.”

            “Yes! Quite! Alfred,” said Mother. “And do you know what has been another strong flavor for me? Easter! Alfred. “Easter!”

            “Yes! Quite! Mother,” said Alfred.”

            “What I hadn’t expected, Alfred,” said Mother, “was that the presence of Jesus would be so real, so very real. It’s like that prayer from the Book of Common Prayer,”

            “What prayer is that, Mother,” asked Alfred?

            “Just a moment,” said Mother, leaving the room and returning a moment later with her Book of Common Prayer. She ruffled through the pages and finally read,

Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you
were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the
breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and
the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

            “It was just like that for me, Alfred,” said Mother. “When I talked with Abbot Wigbert in the garden last week I told him everything that had happened. He gave me Absolution, and I knew, I absolutely knew that I was forgiven. I have been floating ever since. But when I knelt at the Altar Rail on Easter Sunday I felt the Presence of Jesus in a way so strongly that I stand amazed.”

            Alfred bowed his head in gratitude. “Mother,” he said, I know what you mean. Last year at Easter when we were singing that beautiful Palestrina hymn, ‘When the Strife is O’er, the Battle Done,” I was undone. When we came to the fourth verse, ‘He closed the yawning gates of hell, the bars from heaven’s high portals fell,’ I knew in my heart of hearts that he had died for me.  Mother, that was when I surrendered my life to Him.”

            Mother smiled, “I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time last year, but I really felt so bereft, so very alone, and I knew you had discovered something precious that I thought I could never have.”

            “Mother,” said Alfred, “Don’t worry about it. Goodness knows that coming to faith wasn’t easy for me either.”

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your soul” [1 Peter 1:8-9].

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