pickle + mustard + tomato = sanity

I once ate plain sandwiches for the sake of speed and efficiency. But I can barely describe the great delight and peace I now feel because I eat my sandwiches on toasted bread, heating the chicken or other lunch meat, putting on mustard and a slice of tomato, with a pickle on the side. It might cost a few cents more, but it’s even better than I can get in a restaurant.

So often I feel we treat ourselves to second best when, with a little bit of extra effort, we could have the best. I want to eat the best sandwich I can possibly eat given my means (and need to spend/save for other things). I want my sandwich to glorify God, if only by the praises it elicits in me as I eat it.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 9:45 am  Comments (2)  
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Raisins vs. Midwest Floods

My priorities are clear.  I know what they ought to be.  But I also see very clearly in my actions what is actually going on.  A sizable chunk of this and neighboring states are underwater.  Few lives have been lost, but many have been ruined.  And I want raisins.

Human suffering matters.  I care.  God cares.  People care.  But I do not care as much as I ought to.  At the end of the day, the only human suffering that really matters to me is my own.  My blood sugar is getting low and we are almost out of raisins.  This is a problem.

But there are two bigger problems.  1) Iowa is covered by waves of mud, not amber waves of grain right now.  And 2) I don’t really care.  Maybe it’s the distance, or the overstimulation of my senses, or the fact that my news source is CNN without audio while I’m at the gym.  I don’t know.  But the bottom line is that right now raisins are vying with the suffering of my neighbors for first-place in my consciousness… and the raisins are winning.  God, help me.

Distant from the Land

Sometimes I feel alienated from the land.  After being closed up inside, in  the library and in my basement study, I miss the long summer days of mowing and digging ditches that I once knew.

I was thinking about the sacraments the other day.  Where does the water come from that we use to baptise?  Out of a faucet.  Where does the wine/juice come from?  Out of a bottle from the store.  The bread?  Out of a box.  (Ours does, anyway.  It’s matzoh!)  But it hasn’t always been that way.

Once I would have known the water from the river, where I got my drinking water and washed my clothes.  I would have known the feet that crushed the grapes that had made the wine… or they would have been my own.  I might have known the hands or the mule that turned the millstone to crush the  grain for the bread.  So much of the beauty of the sacraments is the making holy of the ordinary.  God has made all of creation good, including the water I wash with.  The goodness of the sacraments is a reminder of the goodness of the mundane.

So I did a funny thing yesterday.  I rode my bike down to the Mississippi, two miles from my house.  I walked down the boat ramp to the water and watched the crane lifting scrap iron onto a barge.  I dipped my fingers in the water, splashed my forehead, and blessed myself.

Dining Room Table of the Soul

Grandma kept it laden with five course meals for a dozen — though we were four in number — an altar to our stomachs and to her ego.  She fed us well.

Grandma kept it beneath a thick plastic sheet (the spills!), a lace table cloth (the neighbors!), and a custom-made insulated pad (the heat!).  She protected it well.

But now the table is mine to keep.  The plastic, the lace, and the pad are gone.  Come spills, come neighbors, come hot pans, I’ll take my chances.  I have no time for pretense.  I will not disguise the very thing I intend to protect.  The grain of the wood glows beneath my plate in ancient beauty, brown and deep. 

Grandma kept the table as she kept her soul.  Now I will keep it as I keep mine.

Published in: on September 22, 2007 at 11:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Forest Feast

We pressed through thorn and spiderweb, darkness and rain, to the palace and to the feast, as any lumpy bed and paltry meal would be for such weary wanderers as we.

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 8:46 am  Comments (2)  

Mmm Mmm God!

Taste the Glory

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  He said, “Let there be food!”  And there was much food.  And he said, “Let men eat!”  And men ate.  And it was delicious.  It still is.

Few things in life are more amazing than food.  Yet some of us take it for granted, ignoring it, resenting the inconvenience, and avoiding it, even.  Others of us make it an addiction and an obsession.  Still, none of this abrogates the fact that food is good and is one of God’s chief means of expressing His love for us.

When God led His people out of Egypt, He made sure that they first ate  a symbolic but hearty meal, both so that they could prepare for their journey and so that they could repeat it every year to remember their deliverance.  When Jesus was preparing to die, He performed a new version of that same meal, that His disciples might remember their deliverance and their dependence on Him.  When He rose from the dead and the disciples were freaking out and thought He was a ghost, He ate some of their fish.  Later, He appeared to them on the lake shore and, when they were freaking out with excitement, He made them breakfast.  Then He lovingly chastised Peter: “Feed my sheep.”

In Judaism and in Christianity, food is the prime metaphor for our understaning our relationships with God and with each other.  But it is more than that.  It is worship for the senses, the smell and taste of redemption.

God didn’t have to make us to eat.  We could have photosynthesized like plants.  And food didn’t have to taste good.  But it does.  God be praised!

Let us neither forget those who are without food, nor be slow in delivering it to them, for food is our primary means of expressing love to those in need.  God, help us!