Monday, December 9, 2013

The Spirituality of Advent, Day 2, Week 2

Today I will talk about preparation for cooking.  

Preparation for cooking means many things.  It means having the right ingredients on hand in the house.  This issues my family experiences here can be missing anything from a spice we don't use very often to poor control over the number of eggs, amount of sugar, amount of butter, amount of oil, or amount of flour in the house.  These are usually things that can be fixed but require leaving home.

It means having the right equipment.  Is there a whisk?  Do we have enough clean measuring cups?  How about clean bowls?  Frying pans?  These are the types of things that also can be fixed.  Usually it just means washing something when it was not expected.

It means allowing enough time.  We waited until after the end of Chanukah this year to make our annual latke meal mostly because of the time required.  Even on the weekend when we finally made the latkes, we waited until we had the right proportion of a day to work in.  Preparation and planning go hand in hand.

It means preparing the ingredients to be ready in the right order and at the right time.  Stir fry is a great example here.  But when preparing to fry latkes, it also means taking all the right steps with the potatoes.  This year, my eight year old, having made them at school again, suggested squeezing the potato shreds in a cheese cloth.  It worked wonderfully to prepare them for frying making this the best year yet.

It means having the right beverage to go along with what is cooked.  Many times the exact beverage does not matter so much.  But sometimes things need to be just right.  Eggnog at Christmas Eve.  Cider at a fall dinner.  Sometimes the right wine--or at least the right type of wine to complement a meal.  

So many aspects of preparation.  And when everything is prepared just so, things tend to work out very well.  Great experience with creating the food.  Great taste when the food is prepared.  Smiles on the faces of the people who are eating as they enjoy the food and the company.  When things don't go so right with the food, it can make for a poor dinner in many ways.  Less camaraderie.  More complaints.  And those seem to affect interpersonal relations as much as they affect the food.

So how does this relate to spirituality.  Well, cooking is a gift,  The food is a gift from God.  So those are easy and simple ways to talk about the relationship between cooking and spirituality, but not the only ways.

More importantly at this time of year, when we hear over and over again the message of the expectation around Jesus coming and the expectation of the second coming and how (for those who believe) being ready for the second coming means something, it is an excellen reflect of the exploration of multiple facets of one's like.  Cooking works when everything works.  Yes, there are some shortcuts or places in which there might be ways to get around certain things.  But generally, cooking works when everything works.  Getting to Heaven doesn't mean being perfect.  In fact, Catholics believe in forgiveness.  Jesus worked with sinners.  But there is still preparation that can be done to improve all parts of life in ways that are more consistent with the way that God asks us to live through the commandments.  With the lessons Jesus passed on through the Beatitudes and the great commandment.  

Spiritual preparation for the rest of life on Earth and the afterlife is not something done once.  Just like cooking, it is done every day and involves many facets.  

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