My peanut butter epiphany

When I was in High School and college, it often troubled me that I didn’t feel that I loved God. I found that whole days would go by without my even thinking about God, and I questioned whether I could truly say that I loved God if I often wasn’t even consciously thinking about Him.

And then, on an average day, during an average trip to buy groceries, I had an epiphany. To poorly paraphrase an ancient hymn, “twas peanut butter my fears relieved”. This is how it happened: despite the fact that I prefer crunchy peanut butter, I reached for the smooth one – because that’s what Jeremy prefers. And suddenly, it was as if the heavens opened and light poured down! I realized that I finally understood that you know you love someone not because of consciously felt emotions, but when you choose what THEY prefer, to please them rather than yourself.

This may seem a rather obvious thing, but it was a spiritual turn-around point for me. I realized that I don’t think about Jeremy for much of the day as I’m busy and meeting other people etc… but I know I love him because, at a deep level, I arrange my life around him and have his preferences, desires and hopes tucked away in my subconscious. I may not actively be feeling mushy smushy things for him, but when I buy smooth peanut butter, or call up friends we’re dining with to remind them that he doesn’t eat cheese… I show that I do love him. How freeing to see this parallel with our spiritual walk! I may not think about God every moment of the day, but by choosing to tell the truth, or quiet the judgmental voices in my head, or to say something encouraging – I show that I DO love Him and that what He desires is important to me.

I just about did a little jig… right there in front of that jar of smooth peanut butter.

Breathe in, breathe out

Sabbath
The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.

Wendell Berry (1934-)

I have been thinking subversive thoughts of late: why do Christians put so much emphasis on a “daily quiet time”, and yet neglect the weekly practice of setting a day aside to rest, remember, reflect and be re-created?

This morning Wendell Berry’s poem reminded me of the gift of rest that is given to us. Just as the changing seasons allow us to appreciate each one (what would the joy of spring be without winter?), so too the gift of rest allows us to appreciate work, and work allows us to appreciate rest. So today I’m breathing in, and breathing out (a mini-sabbatical). And tomorrow, I will rest. For hurry is the destroyer of time.