Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Self-Knowledge

Another women's week-end is coming up. A group of us went away together last fall as we do most years but, no sooner had all the plans been made than (1) the instigator, she-who-had-had-the-nerve-to-Move-Away, backed out and (2) another woman suddenly could no longer come. The latter has been trying hard for months to pull together a second week-end and it looks like this one's a go. I'm probably the only one who either can't go or can only go for one night.

But I find myself feeling reluctant to make the effort, because I feel like I was burned last time, and here's why:

My favorite things to do with friends are walking and talking, and I had looked forward to a couple of days of doing exactly that last fall. With one friend in particular. And on that particular week-end, that friend forgot to bring any shoes that would make long walks possible.

How could that be? I asked. What else, besides, contacts, and she doesn't wear contacts, could possibly have been more important to pack?

Well, what she did bring was food. Lots and lots of food. While I had been dreaming of long walks along the lake, she had been imagining long and cozy breakfasts of bacon and eggs and sausage and waffles and bagels and whatever. I would have been happy with a glass of juice on the way out the door.

So I was disappointed to find myself walking alone, and she was disappointed that no one else thought that a three-hour, three-course breakfast was the way to spend Saturday morning.

And so I have been thinking about how differently we all nurture others.

I don't cook. I'm a terrible cook, for a couple of reasons having to do with (1) no sense of smell and, therefore, little capacity for the appreciation of flavor and (2) Wicked Stepmother No. 1, and we won't go there. I'm a terrible cook and I have a terrible history related to meals and so I do not nurture with food.

Last week as I was preparing to preach and concluding that my sermon was pretty much a disaster, one of the things I wondered in some desperation to myself was, "Is there anything at all in here to nurture anyone?"

As it turned out there apparently was. Based on the response I got, there was plenty of nurturing going on.

In a similar context, that is to say, the context of church, I used to wonder why the sacrament of communion just did not move me. At all. Until last year, when it did, but that is another story entirely.

What has finally occurred to me is the obvious. I nurture with words, not food. When my children were little, the main events of the day revolved around reading stories. Hour upon hour of them. The most dazzling dinner specialty, on the other hand, was grilled cheese and tomato soup.

In church, the same thing. Words, not food, are my specialty. It's a good thing that Someone Else got the meal thing down, because it never would have occurred to me.

So maybe I will go on that week-end after all. I will offer my words and accept someone else's food. Just like in church.

4 comments:

Cynthia said...

I just love this. You're such a wise woman.

Lisa :-] said...

What a perfect train of logic. Absolutely the best.

Carol said...

Do a lack of smell and interest in cooking also help one with diet and weight control? If so, how does one have their olfactory glands (or whatever they are) removed? Sign me up!

Mrs. M said...

This is beautiful. Thank you so much, reading it nurtured me, because you sounded so gentle and thoughtful.

I'd really like to hear the other story about communion.