Treat the light things in life very seriously, and the serious things very lightly. - Elsa Maxwell
We were driving to Massachusetts and somewhere in north Jersey Evie had a craving for ice cream. Just off I-287 on the right side of Route 10 we just happened to come across "M & A's American Dream Ice Cream."
Once inside we encountered several surprises. This was definitely an ice cream shop - 82 varieties, from Egg Nog and Milky Way to Pumpkin and Motherlode. They even had "No Sugar Added" ice cream, scooped yogurt, sorbets, soft serve ice cream and "Weight Watchers Smart Ones."
There were "Dry" toppings (Spanish Peanuts, Oreo Cookies, Heathbar, Snickers, etc.) and "Wet" toppings (Peaches, Vanilla Syrup, Coffee Syrup, Wet Walnuts, etc.).
A quick glance informed us this was more than an ice cream shop. "We carry a full line of The Famous Manhattan Soup Chef (think 'Seinfeld')."Their soup list includes 35 different kinds "served hot daily" with "take home" available as well.
What if it is a pastry or dessert or sandwich you want? "We carry a tempting line of French and Italian cakes and pastries as well as delicious pies." Kosher cakes are also "available upon request" as are over 10 kinds of sandwiches.
On a counter I noticed a display with the caption "God and Ice Cream...thank God for children saying Grace." This story followed:
Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son 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 Mom 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!"
As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."
"Really?" my son 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 kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember for 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."
And speaking of a "good soul," the proprietor of this incredible shop is Michael Berezein. As we visited briefly I learned Michael was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist.
Openly he spoke of losing close friends. He showed us a sacred display of artifacts and memorabilia from that fateful day given to him in honor of his work with children who had cancer.
With our ice cream cones in hand (Bubble Gum for Evie and Butter Pecan for me), we said good-bye and we were on our way. Who would have ever thought on a drive out of town and a chance visit to an ice cream shop, we would receive much more than ice cream.
Think about it.
Editor's note: Dr. Meyer is president of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville. Responses can be mailed to email@example.com