Black-Eyed Peas and Grace

I can’t remember exactly when my friend Vivian turned me on to this old Southern tradition, but it was probably about 30 years ago.  On New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas and greens.  It’s supposed to bring good luck.  Since then, I’ve heard about the ritual from many different sources.  But I always attribute it to Vivian who had lived in the South and had tons of Southern relatives.

Over the years, my recipes have varied.  Any number of greens can be used.  The peas have the ability to create their own aromatic broth, to which I can add fresh herbs or make spicy.   Some years the addition of garlic has dominated.  Or carrots have been added.  Or rice has made the soup into a stew.  But it is always delicious and always served on the first day of the new year.

According to Vivian, one must also always have corn bread to accompany the black-eyed peas, and I have diligently followed this advice as well.  And the results….  Well, my life isn’t perfect, but I am blessed with health (knock wood), wonderful friends and relationships, a small but solid family.  I live on an island for heaven’s sake, and love my work.

I would say offhand that those black-eyed peas are working just fine!

But this year eating them on New Year’s Day was not meant to be.  For one thing, I had run out of them.  And even more significantly, we were off to Seattle for a family gathering on New Year’s Day.  I admit that I was a bit stricken when it hit me.  Would the sky fall in?  Would my life begin to fall apart and unravel?  How would the Universe punish me?

Well, in my world the Universe is pretty soft and gentle.  Forgiving and flexible, understanding, compassionate and wise.  So I tuned in and the message came through loud and clear.

I had been given a Grace Period!  By the Universe no less!

So on Monday, January 3rd, we stopped at the Coop on the way home and got the black-eyed peas and organic collard greens.  I cooked them and we ate them and they were delicious, as always.  Maybe they even tasted a little sweeter this year because I ate them two whole days late and savored the grace in that.

I breathed that in, connected to my good fortune, and felt so grateful for it.  And I wonder why it all can’t be just that easy.

What does all this add up to?  I’ve decided to continue the work of the Universe and to give myself another longer Grace Period.  One that will last forever.  Well I’m going to try it out, at least.  At least, just for today….


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