Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Grace of the Fried Egg Sandwich

Grace is no respecter of dignity and dignity has no place on your plate when it comes to eating a proper fried egg sandwich.

They're not best approached by thinking, they're too subtle and too simple for that.

Look: Fried egg sandwiches make no sense to the rational mind. Who on earth would put runny-yolked fried eggs between slices of toast and eat the thing as though it were a normal sandwich?! Madness! And laundry bills! As inconceivable as they are, they are perfect examples of God's graces to us because they transcend so many of our human limitations.

Fried egg sandwiches make sense only as a matter of the heart, the soul. They are an elemental thing: Egg, bread, condiments, salt, pepper--these are all basic foods, nothing trendy here, these ingredients are what the world eats every day, has eaten every day for millenia, and will continue to eat.

You cannot find a single country where eggs and bread (or something like it) are unknown. Pick a religion, pick a political structure, it doesn't matter. Pick an environment, a culture, a time--none of these determine the worth or the deliciousness of a fried egg sandwich. A fried egg sandwich stands outside times and seasons and all man-made strictures.

The fried egg sandwich is the great social leveler. A fried egg sandwich is good eaten in freedom or under the jackboot of totalitarianism. A fried egg sandwich calms the mind and enriches the soul no matter if you're rich or poor, high or low, educated or not, smart or simple, man or woman, slave or free. Race is irrelevant. Age is irrelevant. Religion is irrelevant. A fried egg sandwich is as good tasting on the shores of the Colorado river as it is in the jungles of Myanmar as it is on the pampas of Argentina as it is on a glacier in the Antarctic as it is on a nuclear submarine at the bottom of the ocean as it is on the Space Shuttle orbiting the Earth.

No matter if you're a Forbes-listed billionaire or you restock the vending machines at truck stops--the savory runny yellow glory that is the fried egg sandwich is no respecter of persons or shirtfronts.

Fried egg sandwiches never claim to be the be-all, end-all of gastronomy. They're far too humble for that. For cying out loud, it's a sandwich! Yet fried egg sandwiches have a cachet, a down-to-earth attraction and an inner humility--utterly free of pretense--making them welcome and accepted on the poshest of plates as well as wrapped in paper towels (yes, towelsa) and eaten on a crowded subway.

I can name a hundred foods more glamorous--but glamour isn't the point of a fried egg sandwich. Is a platypus glamorous? Of course not. Neither is a fried egg sandwich, and for the same reason.

But what price glamour in the face of a fried egg sandwich? None at all. Only the sad people, obsessed with running endlessly on the hamster wheel of "society," scorn the fried egg sandwich. A fried egg sandwich is an earthy, welcoming, casual piece of eating that laughs off "shoulds" and sham.

It is real eating; wholesome in every way, a method of connecting you, the eater, to what the Japanese call wah, translated as "harmony."

Eating a fried egg sandwich is curiously ennobling. When you're standing there, leaning over the sink, a dish towel or yesterday's t-shirt napkinned on your chest, you are as much a lord of your personal realm as the pope or the president. You've chosen to cast away the unhealthy caring about what other people think and instead you're focusing on what's good. what's immediately in your hands, in your mouth, on your face.

Fried egg sandwiches are not only a satisfying snack or breakfast or even dinner, they are a cure for what ails you, comforting you with their savoy simplicity and wholesome charm. Thus they nourish the spirit as well as the body.

As Benjamin Franklin said about beer, so I say about fried egg sandwiches: They are proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. So, make for yourself or for your loved ones a fried egg sandwich today and step into a quirky mess of God's grace, into the great community of being human, of being a happy child of God, of yolk and running down your chin. And onto your shirt. (The towel never gets it all, really.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Grace of Gratitude

This is a short post--I'm over on my time but I wanted to get this published.

I choose to be grateful. Here are four things for which I'm grateful.

1. Saturday and Sunday were trying days. Saturday my wife (the lovely Sturdy Wench) and I helped set up for a wedding and then Sunday we set up for a brunch at our house for about 15 people. My wife did the wedding cake, helped decorate, while I helped move tables and chairs, ran errands, did grocery shopping at 1 a.m., et al. Generally acted the strong back and weak mind so necessary in endeavors like these. ;)>

Normally this much physical activity would have had me on the floor, but after the cardioversion procedure, I was tired, yes, but not dead on my feet. (Which, btw, were sore as hell but I got over it.)

So I'm grateful I helped my friends and in turn received the physical grace to do so.

2. I'm grateful for my friends Steve and Margarette; they stayed with my wife and I this weekend and it's been too long since we've seen each other. I was able to connect with them, open my heart to Steve, and receive acceptance, humor, empathy and understanding grace from him in return.

3. I'm grateful for Dr. J. ("Dr. O" as I've sometimes called her on this blog but I think I'll call her "Dr. J" as it pleases my sense of whimsy.) I get to see her in a few hours and take another step toward wholeness. I'm grateful to know I'm not crazy, not alone, and hope is for me. Thank you, Dr. J.

4. Thank you for reading this blog. I only know about those who leave comments, so if you lurk, thank you for reading anyway. Thank you also to those who leave comments.

The Grace of the Ghost of Christmas Past

This is my reponse to rozenkraai's second comment in "The Grace of Hopelessness."

I agree, and thank you for the encouragement.

Jeremiah 29:11 is the verse you're talking about; one of the few I've memorized.

Let me add v. 12-14 onto it for you, cortesy of biblegateway.com:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

I've always been entranced by the Ghost of Christmas Past from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." He's everything I want to be: Laughing, kind, hairy, unapologetic, immune to manipulation, huge of heart and full of grace, shining, festive, attended by the best kind of pomp and utterly grace-full.

Rather like a mini-Jesus, no? Isn't this picture of what Jesus talked about in John 10:10 ("...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.") Isn't this a collection of attributes we hope to see in God?

At the floor of my soul I trust God to be God and I trust Him to love me even when His love seems a complete mystery to me. I trust in His love, trust it is a perfect, eternal love. I trust this love, which so often to me seems unknowable, is, in fact, knowable. That it's comfortable, that it knows me better than I know myself and everything in my life is directed by His hand, all this angst on this blog is so much "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." ('Macbeth', Act V, sc. V).

One hearty belly laugh, like from the Ghost of Christmas Past, would blow it all away and dawn would arrive.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Grace of Hopelessness

Today I hope for hope.

Today I need hope.

Today I come up empty.

At some point, hopelessness becomes its own weird grace. When you are hopeless, you are relieved of the burden of caring, of mattering to the world. It is a numbness of the spirit, a state wherein there's little pain even if the price is little pleasure. Sometimes that feels like a good trade-off.

And sometimes is a lie, even when I'm desperate to hide it from my eyes and chant "lalalalala I can't hear you!" lest I see and hear and be destroyed by the weight of caring and seeing that care, that desire for life, get shanked by a seeming random universe and a wholly unpredictable God who says He's good but whose actions don't seem to match.

Sometimes is a lie when I don't have the energy to keep doing what I've been doing any longer and pretending it will work *this time*, things will go differently *this time* because *this time* is the last time and the time before that, et al ad infinitum.

I can't keep seeing what I want to see instead of what's really in front of me.

I am hopeless now, so I can stop pretending.

I am hopeless now, so I can stop trying to convince myself my fears and desires were reality instead of just constructs in my head.

I am hopeless now, the castle of my perpetual self-centered fantasy is being razed, the ground sown with salt.

I am hopeless now, naked and tired, too weak to carry embarassment or denial (well, at least not as much as I used to. I'll never completely lose my awesome capacity for self-deception.)

It's a relief in a way, being hopeless. Now that I've given up, life seems clearer somehow. I know what I have to do to live.

Will I choose it? I hope so (Ah ha! Caught you, hope, sliding in through the doggy door!) but I don't *know*.