A year ago I was pondering on how the presence of God is to be found in the seemingly mundane things of life (a reminder HERE).
I was reminded of this after having given my wife a slow cooker as a Christmas gift (with her prior permission and wish of course!) The thought occurred to me as she was enjoying experimenting over recent weeks with all sorts of ingredients to make stews and casseroles, that the method and benefits of a slow cooker is rather like the attitude we need to take to life in our marriages and families. That is to say, just as we know a well prepared dish will taste better when the ingredients have been carefully chosen and the cooking time isn’t rushed, so too do we often get the best out of our relationships when things are allowed to unfold and develop gradually and not impatiently. It’s hard to resist the frenetic pace of life invading our home life and family bonds, but resist it we must. It’s not an accident of history that Christ spent most of his earthly life in the home of Nazareth before beginning his public ministry. His heart, soul, mind and body needed to experience the “slow cooking” as it were of ordinary everyday family life and love so that his humanity was matured in deep and rich flavours of gratitude, service and generosity towards others. It’s all part of this idea I shared way back at the very beginning of this weekly blog in 2014: “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
Good home cooking isn’t just nourishing, it’s symbolic of the supernatural nourishment God wants us to enjoy when we’re loved and return love for His sake and because He loved us first. Such nourishment cannot be rushed. Psalm 23 The Lord’s My Shepherd speaks of the life of heaven as a banquet, a full table, an abundance of food of the utmost profusion. We wwouldn’t snatch and grab at the food of Christ in the Holy Eucharist like a spiritual quick-fix, just like we instinctively know that refuelling the body with fast food isn’t the real nourishment we crave. But we live in an instantaneous culture; rapid fire, full on, 24/7 non-stop attention grabbing existence, and if we’re not careful we can miss out on the most beautiful and rewarding things in life, which are often the most simple, like the satisfying goodness of a slow cooked dish, especially in the cold dark winter months. Waiting 5 or 6 hours for a meal to cook for a long time on a low heat might sound like a chore, but actually whilst the pot does its work, one is freed to do other things. Likewise we have to allow the heat and warmth of the Holy Spirit to permeate our daily existence not by looking for signs but by being gently open to the signs constantly being transmitted to us. He is always present to us, just not in the ways we think and assume He wants to manifest himself. If Jesus – the Incarnate Son God – could happily, joyfully and calmly await his mission of redemption for 3 decades in the simple home of Nazareth, then we will always find God in the seemingly mundane things of everyday life. As the French lay woman and mystic Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel so aptly put it before her death in 1964:
“Don’t try to find God through new techniques but let yourself be formed in the poverty of a banal life.Monotony is a kind of poverty: accept it. Don’t look for beautiful trips in your imagination.”