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Cay GibsonBaked with Love
by Cay Gibson


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Serving Broken Donuts

I've written before, not with pride, about how impatient I am. Awhile back I read an article by newspaper columnist Rachel Balducci. In it she wrote about having served the poor alongside Mother Teresa’s nuns, the Missionaries of Charity. She wrote how easy it was to serve while watching and following the examples of these sisters who always serve God’s people with a smile on their face.

“Until one morning in the Bronx,” she writes.

“At the soup kitchen that morning, my job was to serve small powdered donuts to the homeless men coming off the street for a meal. I was handing out the donuts with a smile when one of the men refused the donut I served.

“ ‘I don’t want a broken donut,’ he said. ‘I want a good one.’

“He wouldn’t take the donut! I was amazed. Here was a man who might not eat again until he came back the next day – refusing food! I turned to the sister in charge and waited for her to bark. (The sisters are full of love but also don’t take flack.)

The sister smiled, took the broken donut and replaced it with a whole one. And the man unceremoniously moved down the line.

That moment, years ago, taught me so much. A split-second decision by this holy woman to replace a perfectly good donut showed me how to love on God’s terms – and not my own. It was a lesson in treating others with kindness – even when I think I have the right not to.”

“Poorest of the Poor” by Rachel Balducci

Upon reading the man’s rejection of a “perfectly good donut”, my impatience with human selfishness and self-servitude rose like yeast in a mixing bowl. And I was appalled; appalled that my reaction would not have been the same as that holy nun’s.

I was caught off-guard by the nun’s handling of this rather “sticky” situation. In her kind exchange of a whole donut in place of a broken one, this nun physically acknowledged this homeless man’s wholeness and dignity as a person of God. His self-worth was not broken.

I weighed my mixing bowl’s chemistry of emotions. I couldn’t help but feel admiration for this holy nun’s diplomacy and kindness. It was so totally unexpected; so completely Benedictine. I wondered about that homeless man. Did he walk away humbled, yet filled? Or did he walk away self-righteous and justified, yet empty?

I wondered about my own gut reaction. Why am I so impatient? Is it because selfishness and self-servitude are so prominent within me?

“Be grateful for what you have and eat it,” might have been my response to the homeless man.

“Be grateful for what you have and eat it,” would be my response to my own children.

I’m not proud of that.

I believe in teaching my children respect and thoughtfulness and gratitude and, sometimes, a parent must be firm. And, sometimes, in American homes anyway, a broken donut teaches nothing. Other times a broken donut teaches us much more than it does our children.

I contemplated the scenario of my own children rejecting a broken donut. I contemplated my own gut reaction at their possible rejection. Would I meet their sinfulness with my own? Or would I swallow the yeast of my pride and, like this nun, offer a smile and keep serving whole donuts in place of broken ones?

Sadly, too often, I confront my children’s sinful nature with my own. I forget to add the sugar of human kindness to the yeasty growth which allows the bread of life to overflow. Instead I speak harshly about being grateful. “Be grateful for what you have…” And I proclaim it to be discipline. Yet gratitude is never harsh.

I doubt I will teach my children anything with a sharp voice and a broken donut. When will I learn that examples teach better than words? When will I learn that smiles are simply frowns turned upside down?

Whatever my decision, that is my offering to God. Do I offer Him broken donuts? Broken attitudes? Broken souls? Or do I offer good whole ones?

After reading Balucci's column, I am led to ask myself:

  • do I serve my family with a smile?
  • do I give without counting the cost?
  • do I treat my family as lovingly and kindly as I would a stranger on the street?
  • do I get irritated at petty requests and complaints when I am filled with the same petty requests and complaints as they?
  • do I see Christ in their face when I look at them?
  • do I show my family the walking, talking, smiling, breathing reflection of Christ?
  • do I replace broken donuts with whole ones?
  • do I eat the broken donuts instead?

Lord, help me to serve donuts with a kind and gentle spirit. Let me replace broken donuts with a smile and eat the broken pieces with gratitude.

Cake Doughnuts

2 T. shortening
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
3 ½ c. sifted flour
1 t. salt
5 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
¾ c. milk

Cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. Add to cream mixture alternately with milk. Chill dough. Roll on lightly floured board-3/8” thick. Cut with floured cutter; fry deep fat-375 degrees. Turn once to brown on second side. Drain on paper towels; roll in powdered sugar if desired.

Beignets (Creole Doughnuts)

½ c. boiling water
2 T. shortening
¼ c. sugar
½ t. salt
½ c. evaporated milk
½ pkg. yeast
¼ c. warm water
1 egg, beaten
3 ¾ c. sifted flour (approximately)
Confectioners’ sugar

Pour boiling water over shortening, sugar, and salt. Add milk and let stand until warm. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to milk mixture with beaten egg. Stir in 2 c. flour. Beat. Add enough flour to make soft dough. Place in greased bowl; grease top of dough, cover with waxed paper and cloth; chill until ready to use. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Do not let dough rise before frying. Cut into squares and fry, a few at a time, in deep hot fat (360 degrees); brown on one side, turn and brown on other. Drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Makes 2 ½ dozen.

Cay GobsonCay Gibson is the author of Literature Alive! and Catholic Mosaic and the newly released A Picture Perfect Childhood, as well as several articles published in parenting, educational, and spiritual magazines. She is the literature editor for Heart and Mind Magazine. She works as a freelance writer, a children’s literature consultant and reviewer, and a homeschooling mother of five. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and collecting children illustrated books. She lives with her husband, Mark, and their children in Southwest Louisiana . Visit her blog (Cajun Cottage) at

© Cay Gibson 2008


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