Symbols Connect Us Too!

Many stories have been told about the importance of relational connecting during the Pandemic days of social distancing and isolation. However, there are other levels of connecting that link us to each other. Symbols can also be a tangible way we connect with the memory of loved ones and friends. Recently, our daughter, Michelle, wanted to "connect with her grandmother" by making a blackberry cobbler from her grandma's recipe book. Since my mother passed away nearly three years ago, Chel sought the help of some beloved family members in obtaining a copy of the cobbler recipe.

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Calls were made to aunts about this need, but there was some misunderstanding. We think now that the request was not all that clear after analyzing the suggestions that were offered, "Can't you just buy the box of tapioca and follow the directions? Why don't you come and visit soon? You can watch me make one!" Even grandpa tried to get in on the action, and mind you, he knows a lot about auto repair, but little about cooking! His simple solution was, "Just have her go to the store. Get that dough already made and roll it out, stretch it over the cobbler and poke some holes in it!"

What they didn't know is that for years now, Michelle has been making pies with delicious fillings and made-from-scratch rolled dough, and other recipes that have been passed along and skills modeled and developed by her mother-in-law, Linda! We have enjoyed many professionally-crafted pies over these years! One of my springtime favorites is her strawberry rhubarb pie! 😋 Yet, on this occasion, we had some locally resourced and hybrid (seedless!) blackberries languishing in the freezer over the winter months and, Chel simply wanted to "connect with grandma" and make that blackberry cobbler recipe for the family Sunday dinner. 

I am doing some thinking in these days about the therapeutic and spiritual power of symbols that connect us with the past. Many of us know the emotional connection we have when visiting the cemetery and standing before the place where a loved one is buried. That monument is a reminder, a symbol, and a necessary catalyst for the expression of grief and the shedding of tears. But have you thought about things you have around the house that prompt similar thoughts and feelings? A keepsake bottle of perfume, a treasured Bible with verses underlined, or a special picture hanging on the wall? These serve to remind us, too! 

Monique has an old metal colander that reminds her of her mother every time she uses it. In a similar way, I think of her family every time we dip ice cream using "the Eppinette scoop!" A sister-in-law has the family cookie jar sitting on top of her refrigerator just like her parents used to do. And the truth be told, there were (and are today!) things hidden in that jar other than cookies!  It's amazing how these kitchen items trigger special memories and stir emotions that remind us of love lost and the blessings of the past. 

For Christians, the observance of the Lord's Supper has rich symbolism. Every time we take Holy Communion, we are reminded of how Jesus, while hanging on Calvary's Cross, poured out his life's blood for the sins of the world. The bread and the cup are vivid reminders of His love and costly sacrifice. Paul instructs us how Jesus took bread, gave thanks and said, "This is my body... given for you. Eat this and remember me." Then, taking the cup, He said, "This is my blood... God's new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me." Paul concludes with this reminder to all believers, "The Lord meant that when you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about his death until he comes." (1 Corinthians 11:26 CEV).

Isn't it amazing how a colander, a scoop, a cookie jar and of course, the bread and cup, are powerful reminders of the past? I invite you to embrace the emotion of such connecting and allow the flood of gratitude with tears of joy to transform, renew and strengthen you for the journey ahead. Thanks be to God that in His goodness He has made us completely human with intellect, emotion and spirit! Let's celebrate and worship the Lord as He works in our lives today! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 


  1. Amen. Beautifully said.
    Ps call me next time you eat that strawberry rhubarb pie!! It was one of my dad’s favorite and I do enjoy it myself.

  2. Symbols are indeed powerful. How profound it is that Moses seemingly disobeyed the injunction not to create false images by having a snake fashioned on a pole for the people to look upon. (Numbers 21:4-9). Yes, we as humans take great meaning from seeing a thing represented before us. God's imaginative love is so extensive and vast that even an ice cream scoop or a colander become sacred ways of conveying love given and received. Ordinary bread and wine of course become the primal, elemental symbols of love, sacrifice and banquet feasting. Thank you Mike for allowing us to call forth our own symbols that can be found alongside those that the family of God look to that we might be saved.


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