Category Archives: All Things Beautiful

Something Different: another approach to spirituality


Prayer, reading, and mediation are not the only forms of worship or spirituality.

Participating in our lives, growing our friendships and trying new things are also critical to our souls.

Please join me and a group of my friends in a celebration and exploration of food and literature and inspiration. We’re beginning a new club called Cooking through the Classics. Every quarter, we will read a book together and use it to inspire us in our kitchens with food and drink.

The first book is Dante’s Divine Comedy, and we begin in September. For more details, please click on the links below, and join in!

http://literaryzooey.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/cooking-through-the-classics-preview-and-invitation/

http://zooeysuff.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/cooking-through-the-classics-invitation-and-preview/

 


Nurture


I decided to veer a bit today in topic and write about cooking. Just as I am not a theologian, I’m certinly not a cook, so if you’re looking for recipes and cool stories about food, you’ll want to visit my friend Camilla’s blog. (See http://www.culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com.)

Lots of people say they can’t cook, and sometimes, they’re right. But lots of other people say they can cook – and their food is bloody awful. So, let me clarify, when I say that I’m new to the kitchen, I mean that until recently, I could not have told you what “saute” means or even how to tell if my burger was no longer alive. I could not imagine what one would do with 98% of what is found in a grocery store. I could make instant oatmeal.

I did not grow up with food. No one in my house cooked. Generally, the pantry was pretty empty. We had Frosted Mini Wheats, chips, Dove ice cream bars, Evian, and Coke. My parents were self-employed. They would leave the office and go to a nearby restaurant for dinner and then return to the office. We never saw each other. This didn’t bother me for two reasons. One, it was better to be away from them, and two, equally important, I respected the responsibilty they had to their employees and clients. I appreciate a good work ethic.

So, this whole cookng thing is a Brave New World. Now that I’m getting past the terror of it, I think it’s pretty darn fun. But it’s more than fun — the act of cooking for someone feeds some deep down part of my soul, a part of me I hadn’t known I was missing.

Cooking for my family is a tangible demonstration of my feelings for them. I want them to experience in every possible way the joy, pleasure, satisfaction and delight that is in my life because they are.

Last night, in absolute seriousness, I explained to my husband a new house policy:

I will only cook with real ingredients: butter, cream, lard, bacon, etc. If anyone thinks their jeans are getting tight, they need to exercise more or eat smaller portions.

Life is too short for bad food.

~~~~~~
Yesterday’s menu:

Pulled Pork and Limoncello Cake

20140313-084453.jpg


Childlike


“Child-like” is often the descriptive word instructing us in how to treat one another and how to approach God. (See Matthew 18.) We are told to be like children. Sadly and often our all to human leaders tell us that this means we are to be simple-minded and, well, niave.

But, children are neither simple or stupid. ather, they love freely (unless taught not to) and they hope outrageously (again, unless prevented). Children do not fear imagination or passion, and they openly attach themselves to the ones they love.
In contrast, the adults I know (particularly myself), distrust hope and are wary of passion. I suspect my imagination and doubt the motives of those around me. Well, honestly, I even doubt my own motives.

Fear is a huge factor in all that prevents us from living and loving, whatever faith we may identify with. The instruction to Love everyone without boundaries or judgment, as the cornerstone of the Christian faith, requires us precisely to put away fear, as fear cripples love.

I find this fascinating, because it is not enough (not enough for me anyway) to say to myself, “Stop worrying, and “love” others instead. It will work out.” But I have noticed that, even when terrified, if I try to push a wee bit of space for love to be present as well, love drives out fear. It drives it out, or suffocates it, or mutes it, or something – and there, suddenly, I find my old child-like hope, optimism, and affectionate abandonment.

If someone tells you to love this person but not that one, or care for this over another, then they do not speak truth. We are here to care for this world with passion and affection, and let God sort out any other details later.
Be like a child: fearless, hopeful, and full of passion, love, and dreams.


Mission Statement


This past Sunday, our church set about writing a new mission statement.  We have a new Priest-in-Charge, Mother Johanna, who is this delightful blend of Episcopalian mystic, Buddhist monk, and humorous sage. She radiates holiness without hitting one over the head with it.

After much group building, the congregation whittled down to five verbs: to love, to pray, to serve, to nourish, to welcome.

Mother Johanna desires a choice of three verbs. Many in the congregation desired many more, not understanding that in cases such as these, more words mean less. In the effort to precisely say everything all at once, we end up saying a great deal less.

Personally, I’m a fan of using just two: to love and to pray.

Every act of kindness, compassion, tolerance, hospitality, generosity, and so on is an act of love. Christians are commanded to love – everyone, regardless or race or creed or similarities or anything else. We are told to Love.

It’s really quite beautiful in its simplicity, and shockingly hard in reality, but there you have it. John 15:17 “This is my command: Love each other.”

Sadly, a lot of churches and people using God’s name pervert the simplicity of the command. They twist it so they only have to love others who are just like them. But as the stories of the Samaritans and the tax collectors and the other rejects of society clearly show – it is not for us to judge who gets to be loved; we are to be loving.

To love. To pray.

That’s my mission.


Treat


I (try very hard to) resist confusing authors as people with their work, but I do still refer to their work if it resonates. Resonance doesn’t necessarily make something a piece of art nor does a lack of reverb mean that something is not art. It just means that it’s personal to me, and I use various works freely to assure myself that I am not alone. Attend any concert or book-signing and you’re bound to find others for whom the work works too.

We are less alone.

The primary function of art is to reassure us that we are not alone.

I don’t want to be anyone’s role model or, worse yet, poster child. In 2012 when I posted more frequently, I saw themes developing in my comment sections, things like “Oh, you go, girl!” or “Yes, keep shedding light on these experiences for the betterment of mankind” blah blah blah.

It was well-meant, but it made me stop writing.

Like I said, I’m not your pin-up.

This position is a problem, though, not least because it’s totally hypocritical.

So I propose a treaty between my readers and myself.

I tell stories because I must. Often they are about myself and my experiences because I write about what I know – or about what I don’t understand. When I don’t story-tell, the words  incinerate me from the inside out.

If it happens that something I say reflects someone else’s own stories, well, that is the fair exchange for my finding my reflection in theirs.


NaNoWriMo 2013


I loathe the thought of writing anything that is not going to add to this year’s NaNoWriMo word count, so this will be short and sweet.

Please, support the effort of 50K words of new fiction between Nov 1 and Nov 30 at http://www.stayclassy.org/zooeysuff.

Donators might even get to see some of the draft being written….

Oh? What’s it about? Free will and revolution. It’s a kind of science fiction thing. Who knew I’d ever try my hand at SciFi?

Erstwhile (nice word, eh?), here’s a picture of Byron, the local NaNo bear. He attends all local write-ins so that we Wrimos can find each other in a crowd.

NaNo Byron


Man-Love, Baseball, and Unfettered ___-jectivity


A showcase of baseball as metaphor, sport as art, the use of the “everyday” to discuss the “permanent” and, most delightfully for me personally, one of many reasons why I love my husband. No one else I know would “get it” – and my sense of humor – as well as he does. The snippet below (from him, describing a thread he was reading on SOSH)  is gorgeous not only because it is obscure and hyperbolic, but also because it is beautiful and right. It’s excellent.

 

aside: the context: The Sons of Sam Horn (SOSH) is an overly erudite self-aware (self-important, too ;P ) Red Sox super-fan site. The except below is from a conversation online about the stellar Jackie Bradley Jr. 

JBJ ManLove


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