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“Got any lotion ‘round here? Your feet look very dry,” said my friend as she concluded our afternoon visit in my study, her navy shirt and shorts setting off her summer-tanned limbs as she stood up. Daily swims free up chronic pain that enables and enhances her care for others. Each time that she comes, she treats me with a high-calorie protein smoothie, its almond butter and chocolate, a perfect blend. “Just tell me where it is and I’ll get it,” she added.

I shook my head. Her question reminded me to add lotion to my next shopping list as I’d just used up what I had.

“Well, I’ve got some, here,” she said already fumbling around in her over-sized bag. “We can use some of this.” Flipping off the lid, she squirted large portions of creamy lotion in her ample palms and rubbed them together. Already, fragrance filled my study, a fitting comparison to the sweetness of my friend, as I waited for her touch.

Then, I felt her strength course through my bluish-purplish bare feet, felt them tingle and giggle, the truth being that I rarely offer such care to my feet because of not being able to reach them. And then it was over, the lotion recapped and dropped into her purse.

Immediately, another experience of foot-care seized my imagination. Hearty in spirit, strong in nurturing, He cared for His disciples’ road-dusty feet, despite the reluctance of one of them. I admit a tinge of my own until feeling the smoothness and lingering fragrance of the lotion. I, too, had been touched and my feet still sing.

Daily adherence to my routine of self-care, basically unchanged since last March, convinces me that countless prayer supports this uncharted journey in which I’m largely content. My gratitude soars, my new learning challenges and enriches, my diminishments, especially my silvery-white wavy hair, a surprise. And with these changes, I’ve scraped free the outer Liz that no longer works, reminding me of the transparent skin of a garden snake I discovered in my front garden, years ago; its owner, freshly gone.  

But there are interludes of transient pain, clothes that no longer fit, phone calls from solicitors, tiring conversation from visitors. At times, meals lose their taste, fatigue chokes my spirit, and my dry eyes burn, even with Refresh. At other times, noisy motorcycles roar past my bungalow, delivery trucks inch past parked cars, and lawn mowers manicure yards already trimmed.

And occasional exposure to the global news confounds me even deeper and jettisons me into prayer, especially for growing families. And even August colors sigh with inevitable change—the marigolds in my flower beds straggle with blackened leaves.

When yanked away from what I want, I resort to Jesus’s teaching in Luke 12:19:

I’ve come to cast fire upon the earth and I wish it were blazing already.

This same gentle fire informs both Gospel and Twelve Step living and restores my acceptance of “Life on life’s terms” until the next downer. This is how the gentle fire works. It always does.

Dry-roasted-salted-cashews, my energy booster for mid-morning snacks, eventually led to researching this critical food for enhancement of organ functioning. Craving more of these delectable nuts signals low blood pressure, so I’m crunching away as I write—only they’re not nuts. More properly, they’re called seeds.

Grown from fruit trees with rich foliage, the dun-colored seeds encased in two thick shells, emerge from the bottom of what looks like red shriveled apples when ripe, between February through May.

YouTube of past harvests show natives seated on the ground, straining to separate the seeds from the fruits; others, weakened by the humidity and heat, involved in the multiple phases of production—all, strenuous work, required before filling porcelain bowls of wealthy colonialists in Brazil, Goa, and India in their sitting rooms. Today, machines and uniformed workers handle the cashew harvests in different parts of the subtropical world.

What also prompted this inquiry were the acknowledgements printed on the Whole Foods bag of cashews, near my computer; among them was the Product of Vietnam. Only in 1989 did this government recognize the industrial value of their cashews and included their production and export in the Ministry of Agriculture. It now holds fifty-eight percent of the world market, outstripping Brazil and India with its sixty-two factories, its machines locally made and serviced. This country holds fifty-eight percent of the world market, outstripping Brazil and India with its sixty-two factories, its machines locally made.

Discovered as edible by Brazilian natives in the sixteenth century, cashews have been around a long time, still a viable source of nutrition afforded us by Creator God.

Available on Amazon

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