Friday, May 4, 2012

Eucharist in the Culinary Department

Yesterday's post about mac and cheese and Eucharist thoughts took my mental ramblings back to a Friday in February.  Before I go further, let me point out that I don't work in a college affiliated with any religion (except the gods of Capitalism and Profit), but my poet's brain is often making spiritual connections nonetheless.

I'm the administrator who works late on Friday nights.  I don't mind.  I like the campus on Friday nights as the campus gets emptier and quieter.

One late Friday afternoon, I wandered down to the Culinary department.  The Baking and Pastry students were finishing up some spectacular desserts.  I felt like the Little Match Girl, unable to take my gaze away from the treats displayed in the window.

The chef in charge invited me in and instructed some students to give me dessert.  I spooned creme brulee into my mouth and felt the day's stress melt away in a custard-induced swoon of good feelings.

The students finished cleaning up the kitchen and dispersed to get ready for their Friday night classes.  The chef asked me if I'd like to share the plate that a different class of students brought by.  We dug into fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  A different chef, arriving for his Friday night classes, arrived and kept us company.  We had dinner conversation that was both deep and light-hearted.  I suspect that the good food shared communally led us more quickly to that kind of conversation than just sitting around a faculty lounge or conference room would have.

My thoughts are never far from the sacrament of the Eucharist, and that night was no exception.  I went back to my office feeling spectacularly cared for and soaked in grace, even though our shared meal was not particularly religious in nature.

I wish I could say that I always carried that same feeling away from the Communion table.  Often I do.  But there's something different about sharing a meal and sharing a sip of wine and a morsel of bread.  Maybe that says more about me than it does about our churches and the need for change.  Maybe my focus on food and good wine, the fact that they bring me such happiness, is the problem. 

However, at our recent Create in Me retreat, I heard a room full of 70 retreatents say much the same thing, so I know I'm not the only one.

How could we recreate our Eucharist so that it's more like my meal in the Culinary department and less like crumbs from a table? 

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