Spirituality And The Kitchen

In the Christian world, it’s common to hear the wise and mature folk ask pastoral leaders, “So dear, where are you at spiritually?” 

It would be far more insightful for them to ask what our kids ate for dinner last night.

 Food and the preparation of said food, i.e. – cooking — is an uncanny indicator in my life regarding the true state of my heart.  If my spirit is peaceful, cooking seems amusing and diverting, but if my soul is weary and overwrought, the very same task feels like a loathsome chore.

So, my response would be, “Well, my kids had a frozen TV dinner consisting of macaroni with a side of zapped peas last night.” Translation…my cup over runneth with too much activity and my kids are getting neglected again in the nutrition realm.

It’s such a vague question, really, when considering the totality of a human being, this “Christianise” vernacular of “where are you at spiritually,” as if we could point to a spot on the map or a quadrant and define our status.  Call me complex or multi-faceted as my friend Krista likes to say, but who, in all reality, could ever chart the condition of their heart on a graph?

Husband (9), kids (8), writing (7), cooking (2), status of garage(-10), ministry (7) health (5) workouts (3), quiet times (5), time for friends (1), time for me (-5), talks with God (7), rest (1), work (5).

My graph would make jack o'lantern teeth; consistent only in the up and down, ebb and flow…of highs and lows and in and outs.  Nothing static…but a tornado of emotions, physical peaks and valleys, and spiritual growth and setbacks all tumbled together under the umbrella of God’s grace.

My points average out to about 2, which puts me right back to cooking.

These days, it’s popular for food to be referenced as a metaphor for emotional undercurrents. Cooking is suggested as an alternate form of therapy, sometimes revenge, and even self-punishment. 

I thought I was above using food as a weapon, but I was clearly wrong, because the first thing I did when my husband recently traveled for a week was to go directly to the store and buy all the food he doesn’t like or approve of. 

My shopping cart resembled the chocolate river from Willy Wonka; peppermint Jo Jo’s, peppermint chunk mocha sipping chocolate, chocolate dipped strawberries, and Swedish dark chocolate. The checker looked at me with disdain, a subtle suggestion that maybe my chocolate binge was hormonal.  I stared back belligerently.

It was passive-aggressive at best…a defiant move that asserted my sense of self apart from my husband.  Call me crazy, but sometimes, I need those little moments for my soul to scream out, “I am woman. A chocolate fiend of a woman.  Hear me roar.”

Notwithstanding the  chocolate fiasco, my life has begun to calm down lately.  Rest has moved up the graph and peace has burst through the dam of exhaustion.  

So, where am I at spiritually?

Well, last week my kids and I ate pork-chops with mango papaya salsa and green bean casserole,  Lasagna and salad with fruit and pear-gorgonzola dressing, salmon with chocolate mole sauce, and divine homemade turkey soup from Thanksgiving left-over’s.

Translation…my spirit is fruitful with a little dash of spice, dark, meaty and sweet, sometimes nostalgic and often saucy.

Maybe that’s why God gave us manna, asks us to fast in prayer, and calls himself the “bread of life,” because somehow our spirits are mysteriously and deeply intertwined with food. No pun intended…but maybe we really are what we eat.

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