Do any of you remember the “old days” when recipes were written on pieces of paper? Nowadays when you want a recipe you just open up the laptop and surf the internet and comb through list after list of variations of almost any dish. In fact, looking for a recipe is now as easy as searching on a cell phone.
Last week Amy and I were searching through one of our recipe books looking for directions on how to make some particular dish – for the sake of the story let’s call it possum fritters (I do not spell possum as “opossum” since I do not call those marsupials “oh-possums”). This recipe book is the kind where you write in your own recipes as well as containing pockets for recipes clipped from magazines, newspapers, etc. Like any good recipe book it was dusty with old flour and stained with oil, icing smudges, and gritty remnants of sugar. It was a wedding gift over 21 years ago.
Looking over the recipe book is like a culinary journal of our marriage. The earliest entries were typical of a couple still in college and living on meager resources. Most of them included ingredients that involved opening cans and heating in the microwave. Over the years our recipes grew somewhat in complexity and variety. Thumbing over the pages we were reminded of old friends, whom we need call; church members from previous pastorates, many who have passed on; and cherished family members who shared their specialties. Many of recipes are for food that tastes like home, and we have been blessed with many homes.
Cooking, like recipe books, is a way to practice remembering. When we remember, we return to important and formative relationships that have helped shape us and continue to sustain us. Grandma’s biscuits reconnect us not simply to the past, but to a relationship. That is why I like stories so much – they help me find a connection with my past and they help me interpret the present. Stories around the table or the campfire or over a cup of coffee have a nourishing quality far beyond any recipe in a cook book.
Church too is entrusted with remembering. We look back and we look around and we share the stories both funny and profound that have helped shape us. We discover our own unique role. What better season than Advent to remember both the cherished traditions of the past and epic stories that guide, inform and inspire us for the future.
Thank you for nourishing me in these days of Advent. Your presence accompanied by your smiles, hugs, laughter and even tears reminds me that not only are we making memories, we are building something beautiful together – a life in community.
Peace be with you,