We take it for granted that God is always standing there with arms wide open, poised and eager to receive our burdens.
Eager to receive our burdens.
Who in your life is truly eager to share your burdens? Eager to gather all your hurt, your pain, your fears, your worries, shoulder them, carry them away, and all you need to do is let go?
But we don’t.
We cling stubbornly to our ways. We try to make it on our own. The world feeds these desires, telling us that independence is the height of satisfaction and success. That dependency, vulnerability, and weakness can be conquered if we just ignore them and push on.
But this type of pushing will drive you insane.
This type of pushing will deny you your true self, will keep you from honest relationships with others, and will keep you from a God who merely wants to share your burdens.
So try it this morning.
Try letting go.
Let God see your fears, your pain, and your hurt. Let God walk alongside you, accompany you in the darkness. And finally, let God take all those things to which you’ve been clinging and bear them, as Jesus did the cross, so that you can be free.
You may weep.
You may weep because this type of grace does not come easy. Not because God is not willing but because our flesh is weak. You may weep because this grace is deeper, wider, bigger than the satisfaction we may feel at our own successes. You may weep because to be in the presence of God is holy, astounding, and awe-inspiring.
You may weep because tomorrow God will be standing there once again with arms wide open, eager to receive our burdens.
“Paris is… the best city to wander around alone because it’s so beautiful you feel like it’s hugging you.” —Lessons in French, by Hillary Reyl
This is just a quick update to say that the blog’s been ho-hum as of late because we’re in Paris on a fifth year anniversary/conference/stuff your face food tour, and while we’ve been seeing lots of lovely things like cathedrals and art and cobbled streets, the photos are firmly in the digital camera (and subject to my husband’s critical editing eye) until we return, and I’ve been doing that thing lately where you soak it all in before you muse onto the page.
Still, just a few updates: we’re spending the full two weeks in Paris, because Evan caught a nasty cold on the plane, so we’ll save the trip to Burgundy, the Loire, and Normandy for another time! That means we’ve been scrambling to book hotels last minute, but that we’ve also experienced the personalities of several different arrondissements intimately. And I finally get the flaneur thing: it is so wildly freeing and delicious to just stroll about leisurely in this beautiful city, though it has also been predictably disorienting not to be able to speak the language, my heart still leaps a bit every time I hear Chinese, and Paris feels so decisively more foreign to me than Asia!
I’m convinced that I’m not sophisticated enough for all this, and yet I’ll–we’ll–continue to fake it, muddling through in our best attempts at French and French accents, which has gotten us some memorable and satisfying coffee, food, and views. And faking it isn’t so bad really– I’ll take satisfaction over sophistication pretty much any day.
Many anthropologists are writing about the culture of feeding, defining kin and households based on who eats where and who feeds whom, and arguing that sitting down at table is a sacred practice that connotes far more than just physiological processes (see Janet Carsten and Mary Weismantel).
And last night as my husband whipped up some tomato sauce from a bushel of farm fresh tomatoes down the road, we began talking with a friend of ours about what we ate growing up and noting that it mostly came from cans, freezers, and boxes. It was not only a function of the type of leisurely evenings and worryfree youth that we (in many thanks to our parents) are enjoying (and that our parents lacked), but also a culture of poverty that struck America among our depression-era grandparents and extended into the cooking habits of their baby boomer grandchildren.
“What a fascinating generational study,” I mused, perking up, ever the anthropologist, and my mind racing about the lively interviews to be conducted among grandparents, parents, and children in kitchens all over America. I began to expound that my friends who have definitive cooking backgrounds mostly took these from their immigrant grandparents, while their baby boomer parents were too worried these ethnic roots would hold them back and didn’t pass on language, culinary expertise, or other cultural artifacts to their children.
These are sweeping generalizations, of course, but immigrants cook less out of boxes and are often much closer to where their food comes from: I remember the Hmong families my mother tutored in inner city Milwaukee that kept pigs and chickens (and likely butchered them in the backyard), and fresh off the plane from China, my husband recently lamented that he may not be able to find anywhere in America to buy pork fat to render his own lard for making tortillas.
I’m not arguing for a hierarchy here when it comes to health, knowledge, or even taste (God knows lard, while it tastes great, has expanded many an American waistline), nor am I wanting to romanticize poverty. Rather I’m going for something like substance, connection, depth.
As I thought more about these cultures of feeding or lack thereof (and enter here the catalyst for the slow food movement), I began to acknowledge the reason my heart leapt yesterday morning when my professor suggested my husband cook some Chinese food for us this evening, or why my husband and I felt oddly satisfied by the Chinese meal we had in Oklahoma in ways we didn’t by American cuisine.
It’s not just my body, but my heart that craves these foods lately, the feeling of being satisfied part and parcel of a struggle to adopt and adapt a whole nother world. And that is often now followed by a profound emptiness, or hunger, that creeps up from the depths, hardly recognizable until it finds what it craves. My heart, my mind, my soul found themselves profoundly satisfied by China’s odd cuisine, and I’m left wondering how long it will be before America can do the same.