Exploring: The Church, Theology and Food

This past weekend I was on a wonderful Advent retreat. It is exactly what I needed this time of year. Fresh snow had fallen, the women I journey with and retreat director were wonderful.

The last day I took a peek into the retreat carriage house where one of the towns Christmas annual Christmas tour was held. Some of the women had taken a peak the night before and remarked on its beauty. The rooms were beautifully decorated poinsettia, trees, nutcrackers of all sizes, family photographs and a large assortment of crèches. I soon realized that every Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus were white, along with all the assorted family photos. It has taken me a while in my spiritual path to recognize my version of the Holy Family. It is certainly not Mary, meek and mild and blond hair blue-eyed Jesus. My Mary questioned what her role was.  My Joseph questioned his relationship with Mary. My baby Jesus was born in less than comfortable surroundings, and yet this was all softened in this beautiful Christmas backdrop, presented to make us coo instead of reacting with a “wow this is deep, there is something profound happening here, to make me sit up take notice, take stock of my relationship with God”

I am feeling this in connecting to some spiritual communities in the my sphere of resources.. I feel that there is no place for those women whose spirituality is rooted in the urban. Those of us can find spiritual solace on the streets of New York, Boston, Detroit or the country.

The spirituality in these communities and retreats are presented with a touchy, feel good, CD playing, bell chiming, speak softly to the Spirit quality. I have a relationship with my God, as Dolly Parton so eloquently said “we both see other people”.  Being in relationship means experiencing an entire range of emotions, with my God and with other people, all people.

Both women of color and women without solid financial security are rarely invited to the spiritual direction model table, we are rarely included in retreat catalogues as presenters. If we are it is for a Women of Color Weekend at a center where the costs spiraled upwards of $2,500.

I have noticed that there are very few spiritual director of color in my area of Boston. Obtaining spiritual direction training involves attending classes held during the day and cost for many women is out of reach, perfect for those who have financially secure resources.

It is as if a price tag and a visual expectation on who is called to be a spiritual director or a retreat leader is already determined. The sign reads “You are welcome to join us, if you think like us, have resources like we do, can take the time to fly here and there for programs. Women who do not meet this model should not apply and invitations shall not be extended.”.Women of color are on the outside, we are the other. In scripture we are always reminded who Jesus’ companions were. Not the Temple priest who sat in their fine robes, but those who were on the outside, the poor, the lame, the everyday person just trying to get by.



Stopped & Shop

I created this blog to share the relationship between food and our spiritual journey.  Today I need to vear from that path the recount an incident from yesterday.  After leaving a hair appointment in Pembroke, MA.  Yes, a sister will go to the ends of the earth for a good hairdresser.  I used some extra time I had to stop by the local Stop and Shop.  Without my list in hand, I tried to recreate my shopping list.  I like using the hand held device that allows me to keep a tap on the amount of money I am spending.  Besides occasionally some wonderful deals just pop up on the screen.

Then I get to the check out line scan the checkout bar and scan my Stop and Shop card.  Before I could blink a women ran up to me stated she had to do a random audit then jumped in front of my cart life i was stealing and she was blocking my way.  I inquired why as the only person of any color in the store was i chosen for a random audit.  She hesitated, then mumbled.  

With recent emphasis placed on the profiling of people of color I could not help but wonder.  If the POTUS can make a statement about being profilled, and post Treyvon we rush into statements of a post-racial society and yet another conversation on race.  Just as a reminder the last opportunity post Skip Gates did not provide any forums of consequence.  We do not live in a post-racial society, every person of color at anytime in their life is a candidate for racial profilling.  Something as necessary as food shopping has turned into place where regardless if we are dressed in Dior or denim, we will continue to be profiled.  As if we have no right to be in a place and must be able to provide an explanation an excuse, a reason for our pressence in a particular place.

I am priviledged to be able to choose where I shop and a vehicle by which to be able to get there.  I can make a decision as to where I shop and choose not to visit the Stop and Shop in Pembroke again.  The company will not miss my shopping there, but my dignity has a higher value than the buy one, get one free strawberries I purchased.


I resigned from one of my jobs today. The icing on the cake that prompted the letter came when a clergy colleague sent me a piece on spiritual exhaustion. Part of the reading contained an excerpt from Psalm 31-9-16, You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

I am reminded this week that Jesus was at a place of spiritual exhaustion. He needed to pray, to have time in solitude as well as having time to eat with those he loved. How hard it must have been to share that last meal, to give instruction and let both his male and female disciples know that the road to spreading the news was not going to be an easy.

Resignations are always fraught with mixed emotions. One day I just woke up exhausted. I could do no more. The broader issues and problems of the organization and administration had worn me down. I needed to stop now and sit at Jesus’ table and be feed. My friend Dave says “you may not be the person who is able to help someone, but you may have planted a seed that makes the person who comes after you water the seed to grow.”

God’s power reaches us when we need a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, and a meal to share.


The Bread of Life

The thing to remember about communion is that breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace. This simple act says that we form a community together.


Citrus Tomato Marmalade

It seemed like a really good idea at the time to buy around 10 pounds of “second tomatoes”. They are still good but for some reason since they are not without blemish don’t get sold for the regular price. Each year I can and each year I forget that it is a process. Even the simplest of recipes take time. I cannot rush the water to boil in the canning pot. I cannot ask the marmalade to thicken before it wants to. We all have our blemishes. We all want things to happen, when we want them to happen. But, in God’s world we are not seconds.


Let me quote Thomas Keller: “When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.”

It comes as no surprise to anyone that I love to eat.  Every year during the summer I ask myself the question “Why did God create a world where every living creature must eat?”   My understanding is that food is a gift of love.  The God that gave us tomatoes, corn on the cob, strawberries and blueberries is a God of love.

Fall Preparations

By becoming a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture) for the past four years I have learned to eat seasonally.  It took a while to get used to and as we enter the Fall season I have to switch my fruits and vegetables as well as my clothes.  There is always a tinge of sadness as peaches, tomatoes, corn, and plums take a back seat to apples, squash

I realized that some food chains only put out “perfect” unblemished food in their stores.

The food that I receive from my CSA includes dirt covered tomatoes and potatoes, gritty lettuce and a few corn worms here and there.  All these vegetables require washing and re-washing. 

They are not perfect by any means but there is something comfort in knowing that my food is not perfect as stores would like us to think.

Veggies, veggies, everywhere!

The past few days has been a bevy of cooking.  The cookbook “Vegan Planet” has been  a lifesaver, pesto, vegan spinokapeda, kolarabi, more tomatoes.  This past Sunday’s gospel reading was on the feeding of five thousand.  I  believe that eating and the preparation of food is a communal activity.  Flavors shared, friends and family shared, food shared with the least, last and lost.  This week we witnessed the devastation of the drought in Somalia, those who do not have enough.  There was a story shared of a young infant who was found abandoned along the side of the road.  Probably the result of the death of her mother.  The girl was found, and taken in as a part of a family of seven.  Enough to share, enough to care.