Saturday, August 22, 2009

Theology of Cooking

For the last two weeks I've been enjoying a much needed vacation. The time has been spent reconnecting with special people in my life. Some I have been privileged to meet during my ten plus years in ministry but others have been there through some of the most difficult transitions of my life.

When we move from one phase of life to another, we "let go" in order to move forward. As we become more entrenched in our new life, we forget much of what was good in our old life. Yesterday, a movie resurrected a memory. The movie was Julie & Julia, a delightful two hours with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and their portrayals of cooking legend Julia Child and writer Julie Powell. There is so much in this movie that relates to our everyday life.

We have all been victimized by the bragging friends that make us feel as if we are insignificant. We have all wondered what happened to the great "promise" of our lives as we wallow in mundane daily tasks. Many of us understand the resistance we have experienced in entering a predominantly male profession. We have known times when we have questioned the value of projects we have undertaken. Those are relevant issues but they arenot what touched me deeply in this film.

Once upon a time, I loved to cook. My favorite childhood memory was the joy of my mother's homemade blackberry cobbler and the Sunday evenings when friends came to share that joy. Cooking is not just an art - it is open hospitality. There was nothing more satisfying than planning a party or a meal with friends. It was delightful to plan the menu, shop for the perfect ingredients, prepare the various dishes then share your labor with others. It was a time to bring people together whether it was an elaborate cocktail party for 100 or an intimate dinner party. People appreciated the fine food and wine but I think they appreciated the opportunity to share that meal with others.

My life changed when I became a single working mother and fulltime graduate student. Eventually, my children began looking forward to Thanksgiving when they knew mom would be cooking again. Now, I spend my time trying to feed souls but there are days when I wonder if the food offered on Sunday morning is as nutritious as the food I once served around a table on a Friday night.