Of the following two things,
I cannot decide which I love more:
I cannot decide which I love more:
A.) On one hand, Cajun food is nourishing and spicy. It warms my belly and my bones, and it makes my mouth dance. It's an instant mood lifter, and it makes me want to string up lights on everything I see and paint things black and turquoise. And it's so practical. Cajun cooking is the best of both artistry and resourcefulness, really. It encourages us to make the best use of whatever ingredients we have, and it is always aimed at satisfaction and excitement, never leanness or deprivation.
B.) And spiritual metaphors are really aimed at satisfaction, too, not deprivation, not when you see things clearly. I am a firm believer that God wants us to be happy and fulfilled in a thousand ways every day!
C.) On the other hand, spiritual metaphors have the unique ability to relate me and my frantic, purpose-seeking mind to every little thing in the world. Spiritual metaphors can make me cry those good, cleansing, satisfying tears. And apparently I need a lot of that in life.
D.) But wait. Actually, is it that unique? Really good Cajun food has done the same thing. A particular restaurant in New Orleans serves bread pudding that reduces me to actual wet, salty tears every single time we visit. I have tried to analyze myself to understand why this happens. I have even tried to keep it from happening (because openly weeping in small, crowded restaurants in embarrassing), but to no avail. Red Beans and Rice followed by Bread Pudding at Little Dizzy's = a sobbing, inarticulate me.
So, you see? Both Cajun Cooking
and Spiritual Metaphors
are a kind of Soul Food.
No wonder it's hard to choose a fave.
Little Dizzy's gumbo includes not only spicy andouille sausage but also crab legs, shrimp, and more...
So basically it's a toss up for me. A toss up between the virtues of the best food you will ever put in your mouth and the veil of meaning around all the tangible stuff we might notice on a daily basis. It just so happens that this week I stumbled on a glorious and unexpected intersection of these two, which I'd really like to share with you guys...
I pinky-promise I'm getting to the point.
While cruising food blogs and keeping my eyes open for the perfect recipe for red beans and rice (been craving it, clearly), I found this lovely woman's story about counting beans and raisins. That is not a typo. For a month she kept two bowls, one for collecting raisins when she spoke kind, truthful, loving words, and the other for collecting uncooked beans when she spoke hard or unkind words, angry ones, words that hurt.
Here is a link to the 2010 blog post written by Lisa over at My Own Sweet Thyme: Eating Our Words- How Will Yours Taste? I hope you spend a few minutes reading it. Then you should spend even more time browsing her gorgeous recipe collection! I have already Pinned about a thousand.
So it's simply a metaphor for closely watching the things that we say... A simple way of measuring whether our words are hard and hurtful, or soft and sweet. I was rapt immediately. Then she continues the metaphor by describing how hard, dry beans can be redeemed into a delicious and nourishing meal. This slayed me...
When the month is done we will cook and eat the bowl of beans we have collected. Soaking them in water the beans soften as the hard outer husk cracks and often pulls away. When heat is applied they become even softer until they are actually palaltable and can provide nourishment. Then the beans are able to absorb a little salt and other seasoning making them into a tasty meal.
Are you with me? Is your jaw dropped open a little, and is your heart humbled? The notion that even our hard words can be transformed by the Water, heat, and salt provided by God... this is encouraging.
All of this has been a big challenge for me lately. I have been shocked at some of the things proceeding out of my mouth, mostly because of what it represents in my heart. Way too much bitterness and hostility is bottled up inside me, and no matter how hard I work to keep it in check or filter those feelings, eventually they leak out of my mouth. Even if I just mutter things under my breath or alone in the barn while raking hay, the words hang in the air, poisoning our environment. They echo in my head and shame me during happy moments. The worst part is that sometimes people I love hear them and are hurt by them. I am hoping daily for multiple opportunities to make amends.
What I need is the Water of Life, heat like discipline and conviction, and salt like Truth and power. I need Love to soak and soften everything, to transform my hard words into something better.
Just for your own study, here are some relevant scriptures:
- James 3:10 "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so."
- Matthew 15:18 (Jesus speaking) "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man."
- Luke 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."
- Ephesians 4:15 "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."
- James 1:19 "Wherefore, my brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
And here are a few relevant quotes I found thought-provoking:
- "By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach." ~Winston Churchill
- "The trouble with talking too fast is that you may say something you haven't thought of yet." ~Ann Landers
- "Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." ~Ambrose Bierce
- "Don't speak unless you can improve the silence." ~Spanish proverb
But I am afraid this restraint of speech is only part of the solution. The root of anger still needs to be resolved, at least for me it does. I feel a series coming on, folks.
Big thanks to Lisa for her sweet note and for allowing me to use her words today. I hope you all can take time to read her essay and then examine your own words. Weigh them, and if they are hard just know that they can be softened. God redeems all kinds of sin. All is not lost.
Also, make some Cajun food! It's definitely on the Lazy W menu this week!
Be Happy, Speak Lovingly, Eat Well