'The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.'
A rainy Sunday wondering what to make for lunch. Looking for inspiration I ask my fourteen year old, "What do you fancy, darling?" She replies with the singularly unhelpful, "I don't know, Mum - something really yummy!"
Going down to the kitchen, I ponder my options. I actually enjoy cooking which is fortunate (who hasn't asked their kids the question "Do you really need to eat dinner every night?"). It's a contemplative activity for me. When my hands are busy my heart wanders over a range of subjects, often in conversation with God. Most often, cooking reminds me of process.
I decided on risotto. Comfort food on a sombre day and all the ingredients to hand: onion, butter and oil, stock, arborio rice, bacon, a block of parmesan cheese. Ingredients taken individually and raw that would be hard to stomach. But it's the melding isn't it. And the order. And the time that needs to be taken.
There's no rushing a risotto. You have to wait for the onion to soften in the melted butter, and the bacon to crisp, before stirring in the rice. Then the stock can only be added one ladle at a time once the previous liquid has been absorbed. You have to stick with it and keep stirring. Get distracted and you won't get the result you want.
You can't trick risotto. You can't switch your pan over to a hotter plate and expect arborio rice to absorb the stock faster. It won't work.
Making risotto is a process and requires patience. No amount of your children rushing in and saying, "When's luuuunch?? Isn't it ready yet??" will speed it up. It will take the time that it takes.
I've cooked risotto countless times, so I have confidence in knowing that if I stick to the recipe the result will be fantastic.
As I slowly stirred and ladled, the Lord and I considered parallels with the walk of faith:
A good recipe
The right combination of ingredients
The right order
Confidence in the result no matter how long you have to wait
When lunch was finally ready, the kids loved it.
And why wouldn't they? In spite of the wait, it was delicious.