I’m in an on-line book group reading Robert Capon’s book, The Supper of the Lamb. Ostensibly, it’s a cookbook. He tells us how to cook “lamb for eight persons four times.”
The book is subtitled “A Culinary Reflection.” That may be more accurate.
Truth be told, I don’t even like lamb. My mother used to fix it on occasion as leg of lamb, or try to trick us into eating it by making lamb-burgers. No matter what trick she used, I could always taste and didn’t like it.
You might think it was the fact that I watched the sheep loaded into a truck on four hooves and come back in white paper packages destined for the freezer. A good-sized animal fit in a rather small box. But knowing the animal before and after never stopped me from liking chicken, and those were dispensed of right at home.
My father once had a box in his office of newspaper clippers and other assorted papers. I asked him about it and he said, “This is what’s left of a man’s life,” because they were the essential papers saved by my grandfather. That box and the box that the lamb would come home in were about the same size. I still don’t quite know what to make of that.
I’m only half-way through The Supper of the Lamb. The book is not really about cooking lamb.
He spends a chapter on cutting an onion, but it is not so that we will, in the end, cut our onions differently, but that we will see our onions differently.
The fit, the colors, the smell, the tensions, the tastes, the textures, the lines, the shapes are a response, not to some forgotten decree that there may as well be onions as turnips, but to His present delight — His intimate and immediate joy in all you have seen, and in the thousand other wonders you do not even suspect. With Peter, the onion says, Lord, it is good for us to be here. Yes, says God. Tov. Very good.
I wondered, after reading that chapter, if I would ever be able to quickly cut an onion again.
Then yesterday I read his chapter on knives. I had a lot of cooking to do yesterday. My two favorite knives both have plastic handles, and would probably not come anywhere near his description of fine cutlery. Yet, for me, they suffice.
It hit me, purple knife in hand, the book really isn’t about cooking lamb, or cutting onions, or the importance of good knives. It’s about the holiness that surrounds us. It’s in everything we do.
Early on, our moderator had asked this:
What do I know about (because I care about) to this degree of detail/expertise? What does “knowing” to that degree require?
That question has been at the back of my mind for weeks.
God has given each of us a passion for something or things. He who is the God of the Onion, is also the God of the Water, something I think about each time I slide into the pool to teach swim lessons.
“In Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28) Just as I teach children how to move and breathe in the water, God calls us to move and breathe in Him, in a new way. It’s a spiritual concept that would have been lost on me had I not looked for the holiness in a swim lesson.
Holiness surrounds every day. In onions. In knives. In swimming pools. In birthdays, and adoptions, and challenging jobs, and folding laundry.
The world may be broken, but it is also holy.
Look for it today.