Lenten Thoughts, III

Soup, it seems, is the ultimate comfort food—
warm, soft, slipping down the throat with ease.
We eat soup when we’re sick,
when we’re snowed in,
when we’re heartbroken,
when even cutting and chewing seem too much,
when we need to be soothed in some deep way.
Soup is cold-weather-dark-sky food.
Soup is peasant food—odds and ends, bits and pieces,
a way to stretch a piece of meat or a handful of rice.
And the best soups are made, I think,
when we treat them as such—
earthy, simple, slow, soothing.
Soup is the wool sweater, not the little black dress.
It’s the cardigan with elbow patched, not the pressed shirt and tie.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p161~

 

Each Wednesday evening during Lent we have been gathering in the fellowship hall of our church with dozens of saints, eager for fellowship and sharing of life and breaking of bread. Once people are there and food is set out, the pastor says “the peace of the Lord be with you” and everyone responds “and also with you” & he opens the evening with prayer. The evening ends with a compline service, which is a short call & response to end the evening with prayer & Scripture & singing the Lord’s prayer. The evening really is a beautiful way of incorporating the gloriously high with the beautifully low, the elegant with the casual, the special with the mundane. Everyone fills bowls with soup, and grabs chunks of warm bread in hands. We sit around tables with one another to fill our bellies as well as our souls.

In the middle of it all, a man—friend of ours, but also new local author—shares exhortations and encouragement and experiences on the subject of deep suffering, physical and spiritual.

Hearts are poured out, theologies discussed, Scripture opened, prayers ascend, bowls emptied.

It is a blessing, and while my little world might not be shattered or rebuilt by the conversations in any truly monumental way, I am still lifted up and filled. By being with believers who love one another and love the Lord—who spill actual grace into the lives of each other—who emphasize unity in essentials and diversity in nonessentials—who care for one another by cooking soup, baking bread, donning aprons, washing dishes, spending a weeknight together not because we have to but because we can.

And God’s blessing abounds in big and little ways, some that we can see and some that we cannot yet see. But I know He is there, and He is working.

And that feeds us in temporal and eternal ways I can only begin to grasp.

 

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The meal itself wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it didn’t need to be.
It was simple and it was good and it gave us something to gather around.
It filled our bellies and let us laugh and connect
and settle into our chairs while the kids played under the table.
It did what food is supposed to do:
it fed us, in all sorts of big and small ways.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p216~

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