Some ice cream for the soul

Published 6:17 pm Saturday, April 7, 2012

I remember when I was little, my mother used to get chain letters in the mail. I now get those silly chain letters via email all the time. You know, the ones that tell you if you forward it on you will get lots of money or something wonderful will happen. If you don’t forward it to 10 people in the next five minutes, something will certainly happen to you. That “something” is usually left blank for the recipient to read into.

I hate them. I am just superstitious enough to want to pass those chain emails along, but I value the sanity of those on my email list too much to pass them along. So, I get stuck, never sure if this email might be the one that puts the whammy on me.

Here’s one that came to me the other day. It goes as follows:

Last week, I took my grandchildren to a restaurant.

My 6-year-old grandson asked if he could say grace.

As we bowed our heads, he said, “God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Nana gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!”

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, “That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!”

Hearing this, my grandson burst into tears and asked me, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?”

As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly man approached the table.

He winked at my grandson and said, “I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.”

“Really?” my grandson asked.

“Cross my heart,” the man replied.

Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), “Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”

Naturally, I bought my grandchildren ice cream at the end of the meal. My grandson stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.

He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, “Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already.”

Now that was it.  That email didn’t promise me gold and riches. It didn’t warn of death and dismemberment. It just said “share” it with as many or few people as I liked. The story found within was well worth the read, and I am sure you have heard it before or something like it. So, I am sharing it with as many people as I know how to keep it going, because there is a very valuable lesson in there, actually more than one. It also happens to justify the pint of Ben & Jerry’s I polished off the other night. It was good for my soul — wink, wink.

A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.