Thursday, March 4, 2010

Really, How Did God Intend Us To Eat Oatmeal?

Warning: Probably Gonna Wanna Skip This One If You Aren't Into Thinking For the first time this morning, after thirty-three years, I put chocolate chips in my oatmeal. It was glorious. Why I've never done that before, I have no idea. I mean really, I put oatmeal in my chocolate chip cookies, so why not the reverse? Never occurred to me, I guess. I wasn't raised that way--who was? I mean, raisins, pecans, honey, sure, all acceptable accompaniments to the time honored, traditional stick-to-your-ribs gummy breakfast. But chocolate chips? Isn't it food heresy to include chocolate chips in your humble oatmeal? On the other hand, my first encounter with a portabella mushroom was in a grocery store in chilly Ontario. It literally begged me to eat it and with great excitement I acquiesced offering no resistance. The portabella and I were on an adventure together--to this day, we still are. I'd had no food show, no childhood notions based on the diet of my family, Fanny Farmer hadn't mentioned the portabella to my knowledge and so here I was with this hunk of beefy vegetation and the sky was literally the limit. I've cooked it dozens of ways and just last night as I was eating eggplant parmesan it occurred to me that next I would try it in that manner. Never once have I used a recipe with that mushroom. It tells me how it wants to be eaten and I obediently trust that it has NEVER let me down and eat it anyway it inspires. When we have a previous experience in life, whether intentional or not, that experience inevitably becomes a cap to what we believe can happen, a framework within which we understand the elements of that experience. When we have no previous understanding of a subject, we are free to experience facets and components of that thing from an infinite number of angles. This is why when the Mouk tribe in remote regions Papua New Guinea, a group of people who had been exposed for the first time to the chronological teachings of scripture erupted in dancing and shouts of "EE TAOW, EE TAOW! EE TAOW!!!" "It is good!" The English translation of their delirious shouts of joy speaks to their understanding of what we call the gospel--the truth that Jesus had paid the price for their sins and His eternal love and presence was theirs for the taking. No fancy prayers, no long walks up an aisle to an alter carpeted in horrible mauve or green or orange industrial carpet. No preacher saying, "Speak these words after me." And to my knowledge, none of them, when later referencing that moment in time, ever used the phrase, "I asked Jesus into my heart." Now don't start throwing your compostables at me just yet. I'm not saying either one is right. All I am saying is that the tribal response is one without any preconceived ideas of how it should look and the North American experience is framed by a history steeped in religion that offers a thousand different pictures of how an experience with God should take form--similar to my culinary efforts where oatmeal and portabellas are concerned. I have to ask myself, in how many other areas have I been missing out on the chocolate chips I could be including? How is my portrait of mothering affected by our cultures snap-shots of the task? Is my vision of marriage wet with the paint of my Heavenly Father's art or is it a low-ink photo copy of someone else's wal-mart quality print framed in wood-laminated plastic? And really, when it comes down to it, you know where I am going. On what, ON WHAT is my picture of a walk with God based? On what? Because I want to tell you that I've spent my entire life in church--thirty-three years of pictures, books, essays, flannel graphs, daily breads, conferences, Bible School, good pastors, and songs--that's an awful lot of frames of reference through which to sort. And then there's this: "Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. the one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35) The one who comes to me and the one who believes in me will NEVER be hungry or thirsty. Come and believe. How then do I come to Jesus? Where do I go to meet Him? Is it the same for me as it is for you? Is it really that simple? Is it? You tell me. Is it? With love, s