I am an everyday cook, providing everyday food for my family. I enjoy cooking for my family and sharing the hospitality of our table with friends. With 6 teenage children, we often have guests for dinner. I am also an episcopal priest involved with the dance and movement performance community in Chicago. As an Anglican, I was trained in the theology of incarnation, but as a cook, parent, everyday pastor, and supporter of dance, I am far more interested in the practical implications of incarnation.
In everyday language, incarnation means that God, a power much greater than ourselves, gave up that power to be among us, to live as one of us. For Christians, this is clearly stated in John 1:14. One implication of incarnation is that God takes our embodied life very seriously. This strikes me as a very good thing, since in our daily lives there is no practical separation of our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. Incarnation also suggests to me that we might take our embodiment equally seriously.
Since I enjoy cooking, eating and sharing hospitality and food with family and friends, I naturally began thinking about the implications of incarnation for how we eat. When I was employed full time outside my home, I ate many business lunches. I had many meetings over meals. One morning, I dropped two of our children off at school downtown. To avoid the traffic and use my time efficiently, I ate breakfast in a nearby diner and worked on my writing. I noticed that, with one exception, no one in the diner was there to enjoy a meal together. Many were there to make business deals, discussing orders, deliveries, sales figures, what have you. A few were there to argue, or continue an argument, and a few more were on the phone throughout their meal. I began to reflect that I was observing classical, and yet American, Gnosticism: we have separated our bodies’ need for fuel from our souls’ need for nourishment. The one exception was a family of four, eating, talking, attending to their children’s’ questions, and obviously enjoying each other’s company.
One way in which I am now taking incarnation and embodiment seriously is in how I prepare meals for my family. What foods I prepare – are the foods healthy, tasty, beautiful, and well liked? Is the table cleared so that we may eat together, or are we eating individually, or, worse, in front of the TV? This blog is about how and everyday cook works to provide physical and spiritual nourishment – holy food – for a family of eight.