This is a nectarine to remember. Sweet, juicy, and perfectly ripe.
Each year I look forward to summer and the promise of all its delectable fruits – especially the promise of nectarines. The less hairy sibling of the peach (and if it wasn’t for the fuzz, I would love peaches), it is one of my favorite summer fruits. Although finding a good nectarine can be a challenge. Sometimes they are too hard. Other times they lack flavor. Or maybe they’re just out of my price range. On rare occasions, a nectarine is discovered that remains with you. I had such a nectarine this week. I did not realize what was in store for me, but upon the first bite was surprised with the perfect balance of sweetness and tenderness. At one point I thanked God out loud for this piece of fruit. This is not an exaggeration. I literally prayed out loud. Multiple times. I was on a retreat, so I guess in that context it’s not too strange. Maybe…
In walking through the pain of rejection these past few weeks I have felt called to engage in beauty. To stop and notice the beautiful trees in my backyard. To go into the city and experience art, both in museums and on the street. To slow down and really enjoy my food.
However, there is a tension that exists within me. Perhaps it exists in you as well. I have this very practical, responsible voice that urges me to be productive and mature. This is the voice that keeps me indoors during my morning prayer, even though I am mere feet away from a lovely backyard. This voice encourages me to maximize my potential and value productivity above all else. This voice has me eat lunch quickly at my desk so that I can keep on working.
This is a voice of shame and fear.
But I also have a playful, child-like voice, whispering for me to pause and really taste, see, smell, feel, and hear. In the rare moments when I actually listen to this voice, I am surprised by the beauty that seems to appear before my very eyes. Almost like the blind person who suddenly is able to see.
Engaging in beauty is a sort of serum for my soul. Yet, engaging in beauty doesn’t let me escape the pain I feel. It does not erase my heartache. I think instead it balances the pain. Beauty can reveal pain, reveal a longing for what should be. It also gives expanded shades, colors, and detail to the grays of disappointment. Beauty helps me see the deeper story I am within.
I am learning to listen more and more to the child-like voice within. And to savor and enjoy nectarines.
Lord, bring me back to the truth that this is your world. Help me to notice and enjoy your beauty reflected around me.
As I have been working on this piece, I had an idea to start a long-term blog series on food. Food has been such a mediation of God’s beauty for me and I thought it might be a fun project as I continue to lean into the discipline of enjoying and appreciating beauty. Then I thought, “I have some friends who also love food and I bet they would have some fun, interesting, unique contributions to put forth.” I must have been feeling quite inspired by this idea (normally my ideas just float around in my brain till I forget), because within a few minutes I was emailing a friend and posting the idea on Facebook. In less than an hour, I had assembled a team who were willing to lend their voices to the project.
These food posts will take place every Friday (a sort of foodie-Friday thing, except I couldn’t dare give the series that obvious of a name) and will offer up various thoughts on food – covering restaurant recommendations and recipes to theological thoughts on feasting.
Join me this Friday, August 22 as I kick off the “Soul Food” series and introduce you to the team!