I've just come from the kitchen where I was slicing potatoes (that will eventually be mashed) for dinner. I've been mulling over recipe ideas and food all day, from everything to wondering if I can master bernaise and hollandaise sauce, to an autumn butternut squash dish, to giant caramel and chocolate chip cookies I want to bake and send my little sister who's now in college. The thought finally hit me today--I really enjoy cooking. I like to get my fingers gooey from mashing ripe bananas for banana bread, I like it when I find a streak of flour across my cheek, and I almost immediately begin drooling from the aroma of garlic and onion being sauteed in olive oil. I'm no gourmet chef, but there is such pleasure and beauty to be found in the simple act of creating sustenance that can be delighted in from raw materials, which in some form or fashion have come from the earth. There is something truly spiritual about it.
Being home most of the day with the kiddo and husband (who works from home) means that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So I'm very grateful for the opportunity to participate in something like prayer as I "slave all day" over the stove! I doubt Jesus spent much time in the kitchen during his time on earth. But perhaps he felt the same way when he bent over wood, to cut and sand and shape it into a thing of beauty.
Now, he's declared himself to be food and drink--taste and see that he is good. What a wonderful image. What a frightening image. Take me in, he says. Ingest me. Digest me. Let me become a part of you, fuel you, keep you alive.
Hunger for me, and I will satisfy. I am the hunger. I am the food. I am all. I am.
I can't pretend to fully understand this, but I know that it is truth. So I suppose I am grateful for hunger as well since it leads us to him. Gives us a picture of the state of our spirits.
But then I think about hunger in the natural realm, and should I be grateful for that? Sure, I can say that I am grateful for hunger when I know that I have a way to satisfy that hunger right behind my refrigerator door, or across the street at the grocery store, or down the way at Chick-fil-A. But what about those who are truly hungry, with no foreseeable way to fulfill their need?
Feed my sheep, he says. It's easy to feed my family. It's also easy to feed my friends. It's a joy to sit around the dinner table with a good glass of wine, maybe some herb-roasted chicken and asparagus, and fresh bread, and be surrounded in the comfort of those I know and love. There is great good in that. But there is also good to be found in having the stranger, the "other" (i.e. a truly hungry person) sitting across from me at the table. I'd like to take steps to being able to do that. Whether that means eventually opening a food pantry alongside Mike like Sara Miles does (which she talks about in her book Take This Bread) or just getting up the guts to invite someone I'm less than comfortable with in for a meal, I know that I want to share this joy I have for cooking with whomever I can.
Ha. I almost wrote "the joy of cooking." (No, I do not own that cookbook.)
And on that note, I think I should get to bed. I have a little one who will probably be expressing her hunger at a less than optimal hour of night. Now I'll have that Checkers commercial ringing through me head...
You gotta eat!