Food and Drink, Lectionary

About Salt

Today I made soup, from scratch.

I started with a chicken. I made up my mind to do this after LP and I enjoyed a thrown-together chicken soup the other night using a carton of chicken broth and some lasagna noodles from an open box in the cupboard and whatever else we saw fit to toss into the pot.

So I went to the store on Monday and picked up a chicken, and this morning, I looked for a recipe including at Pioneer Woman Cooks, because someone mentioned her the other day, and I know I’ve loved her recipes before. I got a huge description there of how to do the whole process, from cooking the chicken (how long, so it doesn’t get overcooked, for instance) and all sorts of little picky pieces of turning a chicken into stock and then turning stock into soup. I had a whole chicken, not a package of thighs, so I made a few adaptations along the way, including a friend’s recommendation to use fresh rosemary.

Snowman and I made soup the last couple of times he was home, but each time we didn’t seem to have the seasoning right, so I paid special attention to that part of the recipe. And I was astounded by the amount of salt called for: Lawry’s and Jane’s Mixed Up Salt and Celery Salt and all of that on top of Chicken Base, which is surely also salty.

I only have regular old Morton’s Salt on hand. And it’s a snow day. So I made do. And I put in more salt than I would ever think of doing, right from the beginning.

It made me a little uncomfortable. I grew up in one of those low salt households, because my daddy took those little red blood pressure pills, and my mother paid attention to the doctor’s instructions to watch his salt. She once expressed horror when she saw me put salt in water I had boiled to cook pasta. The look on her face felt like a slap.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13, NRSV)

When #1 Son was a sitting up baby, I went out to lunch with my mother-in-law, and we set him up in a high chair at the end of our table, and without thinking to ask, she opened a package of crackers–Waverly Wafers, I think–and gave him one. He picked it up and put it in his mouth, and his eyes got wide. It was the first time he had tasted anything really salty. He put his hand out for another.

Salt matters. Oh, yes, there can be too much. There can be. But salt brings out the other flavors and makes everything taste fuller and deeper.

I tasted the stock before I added the carrots and celery and onions to begin making it really soup, and I knew the truth. It needed just a little more.

I poured a little salt into my hand and let it fly into the pot.

And it was good.

Lectionary, Personal History

According to Hoyle

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

This past week I followed a college friend’s Facebook report about his vacation, and in the last update, he got into a conversation about Bridge, a game that is still a big part of his life.

I haven’t played Bridge in years, but it’s one of the major reasons I didn’t live up to my full potential in college. Sophomore year I saw people playing in my dorm, and I asked someone to teach me how to play, and I had a new pastime. Or habit. Or lifestyle.

My friend, JM, liked me as a Bridge partner because I was great at playing the cards. But I clearly didn’t become sophisticated at bidding, or rather not sophisticated enough. There were too many conventions to remember, too many tricky systems in which 3 Clubs didn’t mean a hand with a long, strong Club suit at all. The only one I could ever remember was Blackwood, which you used to figure out how many Aces your partner had when considering the possibility of a Slam.

“I just love it when JM takes me to Blackwood,” I once famously said, imbuing his perfectly innocent game play with something not quite intended.

But that’s not what this post is really about.

What it’s about is a guy who told us he came not to abolish the rules, but to fulfill them. And that is hard talk, because a lot of those rules sound as hard or complicated or ridiculous as Jacoby Transfers or Stayman, which I vaguely remember but couldn’t possibly use after so many years.

And I suppose it doesn’t matter, for me, because Bridge was about those friends I loved so much, and the other characters in our universe at William and Mary, and especially in Project Plus, the people who enjoyed a game and knew its rules and practiced it over and over again, and wrote funny songs about it (better not to remember them in public, but they were funny, I promise), people so enthralled with the same set of rules that we all played together even when we found each other irritating, even when we hurt each others’ feelings, even when we really ought to have been writing that paper or for heaven’s sake sleeping.

It’s a funny pseudo-religion, Bridge, a world of tournaments and rituals, of Duplicate and Swiss Teams and arcane rules and deep wisdom I never came near to knowing.

I loved those days, those friends, those places. We’re all grown-up now. I’m the only one left who isn’t 50 yet. And that brings me back to Jesus, who never got to be 50, or even 40, but who left us a rule of Love for God and love for each other. That’s the tie that binds, the fulfillment of all the rules, the meaning behind all the rest of it.

Lectionary, Liturgy

Burnt Offerings

A Call to Worship based on Micah 6:6-8 (playing around with things for Sunday…because some of the passages we have heard too many times we don’t listen to anymore)

Leader: What must we bring when we worship God?
People: Does our God want burnt offerings? Valuable oil poured out like a river?
Leader: Does God ask us to give up our firstborn children?
People: No. We are God’s people in a different time, and the old ways are not ours.
Leader: That’s right. The old ways are not ours.
People: What does God really want?
Leader: It’s simple. God has told us what is good:
All: To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
Leader: With hearts humbly opened, let us worship God together.