Surprised by Joy, Part 2—A Bowlful of Happiness

by Jackie Pierce

Back when I was in confirmation class about a million years ago, I learned that a sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”  I have often pondered the meaning, but for some time I have also wondered, where does ice cream fit in?

Spending time with Dad almost always involved ice cream. When I was a youngster, he would cajole me into helping with chores, generally, cleaning our little boat in the boat yard, with the suggestion that a stop to the ice cream parlor would follow. It always did. Sharing ice cream with Dad was an experience of pure love and enjoyment, so it is not surprising that it is still my comfort food of choice.

Little did I know, I was not the only one. My sister’s memories of Dad also involved ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised when she absolutely insisted that we serve ice cream at the church luncheon following Dad’s funeral. But I was not prepared for what followed. Not only was there ice cream, my sister had rented an entire Baskin Robbins cart complete with servers in uniform! It looked a little strange in the middle of the church hall, and the memorial guild looked slightly bewildered by the whole experience. But, of course, they were gracious and good-natured folks, just like our memorial guild at St. Mary’s.

It was a wistful day, for sure, but I had to smile when I saw all the church kids clamoring around the ice cream cart. Dad would have loved it! With a cool bowl of my favorite flavor in hand, I could feel Dad’s warmth and presence. He loved those kids, and he loved being their priest. I could tell they knew it, too. Chances are, they had also shared some ice cream together.

That day, I felt an inward and spiritual grace that was powerful and welcome, in the midst of my profound sadness. Once again, I was surprised by joy when I needed it most. So, here’s to ice cream, and here’s to the marvelous ways the ordinary can become extraordinary! Got ice cream? Have a joy story to share? Email me at – Jackie Pierce