Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bread & Wine

It's so hard to find the right words to say about a book that so powerfully impacts you and meets you right where you are. For months, the Lord has been so clearly speaking to me about the importance of community and slowing down to truly enjoy this beautiful life He has given. And Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes came at just the right time to reaffirm these thoughts and convictions while inspiring and challenging me to think about how I apply these convictions.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, it's no secret that Shauna Niequist has long been a favorite author of mine. Her writing is always gut-wrenchingly honest, moving you to tears with one page and laughter on the next. Reading any memoir is like having a conversation with an old friend. She makes you feel normal by being completely transparent about her joys, trials, and struggles, becoming a real person with whom you can identify without trying.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays followed by recipes dedicated to memories and challenges centered around what happens when we decide to lay down our lives for others by feeding not only their physical but their spiritual appetites. The recipes included are well-written and include a variety of amazing ingredients that made me feel like I could do the whole gourmet/foodie cooking thing. I mean, I love to eat. Always have. That's never going to change.

But this book is about more than food. Jesus said that the world would know us by our love. He made us for community. And yet we so often choose to try to go it alone and be self-sufficient and end up more miserable than ever. We were made for others. And when we slow down and cherish the bread and wine of our Savior, we find genuine joy and community within the simplest of seemingly trite rituals.

Shauna writes,

We don't come to the table to fight or to defend. We don't come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, a fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking for. The table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children. We allow someone else to meet our need. In a world that prides people on not having needs, on going longer and faster, on going without, on powering through, the table is a place of safety and rest and humanity, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel. If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health. Come to the table. 

So often we trade convenience for community. We take for granted the people most dear to us, making plans but never following through. And we miss out. We miss out on God's desire for community and settle for less. And He wants so, so much more. He's in the midst of the mundane, and Shauna so gently and gracefully reminds us of that call to more. To expect to see Him in what we take for granted, and to live differently because of our realizations. So I highly recommend her book, and am grateful for the courage she continues to display by baring her soul to her readers and drawing them into her story.

I'll leave you with this:

Holiness abounds, should we choose to look for it. The whisper of God's Spirit are all around us, should we choose to listen for them. The building blocks of the most common meal-- the bread and the wine-- are reminders to us: "He's here! God is here, and he's good." Every time we eat, every time we gather, every time the table is filled: He's here. He's here, and he is good.

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