Before this week, I never thought about how bombs are made. Now that I’ve heard too much about the pressure cooker bombs apparently used in the Boston Marathon attack, I can’t stop thinking about the perversity of using a cooking pot to inflict brutality and violence.
Food brings people together. It is integral to large holiday celebrations, family get-togethers, and intimate conversations. Even when tragedy strikes or there is a death in a family, food is not just sustenance, it is comfort. Is there a culture that doesn’t have its equivalent of a host offering an overflowing platter or a small plate, urging guests to “eat, eat”?
For those of us who cook, the process is often as much of a joy as the end result. Stirring a pot of soup can be soothing and kneading dough can be cathartic. We chop away our cares, simmer our troubles into disappearing steam, and turn an awful day into a pleasing batch of muffins. When we are done, we feel better and eagerly await the smiles and satisfied sounds of others sipping, chewing, crunching, and munching.
The idea that others would take a pot meant for calming troubles and creating happiness and turn it into an implement of destruction is horrific. I am not naïve. There has always been, and will always be, violence in the world. And if someone is bent on wreaking havoc, then whether they use a pipe or a pressure cooker or some other easily obtainable vessel for their weapon is not important in the final analysis.
Still, I keep coming back to the pressure cooker. It’s an old-fashioned type of pot, not much used these days. Uncertain how to cook with it and afraid of putting it together incorrectly (without an instruction booklet), I jettisoned my grandmother’s pressure cooker years ago. But I still remember that heavy pot, and I find myself rattled when I think about someone filling it with bomb parts instead of potatoes or meat.
This week, in the U.S. it feels as though the tragedies are piled one on top of another. Listening or reading news reports makes me feel as though a special dark cloud is hanging over the country. Those of us who live in peaceful places and in families that have not known violent tragedy are lucky. Believe me, I don’t take my good fortune for granted.
I have no advice or formula for how to deal with violent tragedy far away or close to home. But I believe in the power of prayer, quiet conversation, and reaching out. And so I simply offer a quiet prayer, hoping that all of us who believe in peace will stand together, talk to each other, cook and eat together in these difficult times.