The Grand Adventure
I am a pretty good cook. I loved making Christmas dinner for my family in my newly remodeled kitchen a few weeks ago. The turkey and ham were moist and everything tasted good. But my son is a chef. His meals are awesome. Our rule is: If Dylan makes it, we will try it no matter what. When he makes turkey, he starts like I do but then takes the meat off of the bone and creates a turkey roll with a yummy filling. When I am in his kitchen, I watch and learn. As I watch, I am encouraged to be even more adventurous in my own kitchen—to learn more about spices and to think beyond what I learned years ago. He still loves his momma’s cooking though! I have always been a good person. I love my family and enjoy people. I think I am naturally kind. I know that I am not naturally adventurous. But I am getting to know One who is adventurous though—he is rabbi, brother, messiah, Son of God, leader on the Grand Adventure of life in the kingdom. I have learned that my goodness doesn’t really compare to who he is. That knowledge doesn’t make me want to give up being good, but it does challenge me to step out a bit—to participate in the Grand Adventure of becoming more like this One. I’m not sure where the Grand Adventure will take me, but I know where it will ultimately lead.
The Grand Adventure isn’t especially like a recipe—do this and you will get that. Sometimes I wish it were, but where’s the adventure in that? Instead, it’s more like preparing a Christmas dinner with at least six open cookbooks and Internet searches to decide the best way to move toward dinner on the big day. Spending time thinking, reading, wondering, and planning is vital. Cooking takes time to prepare, to try and fail sometimes, and to learn how things can work together in the kitchen. It takes a certain amount of skill to make all of the components of a Christmas dinner come out hot and ready at the same time.
The opportunity to become more like Jesus and to participate in the Grand Adventure takes lots of time too—time thinking (meditation and prayer), reading (study and devotional), wondering (silence and solitude), and planning (discernment) can help the adventurer in the quest to learn more about self and others, while learning to hear from Jesus, to understand how life works and how things can work together. For lessons are learned in the everyday, seemingly insignificant events of life—even when cooking.
Spiritual masters across the centuries learned this well. Brother Lawrence prayed for needs in the monastery and beyond while working in the kitchen and washing pots and pans, practicing the presence of God while he cooked and scrubbed. Certainly, I can learn to think differently about my cooking, chores, cleaning, and care-giving. While I learn to be more adventurous about spices and moist turkeys, I can pay attention to the Son of God and learn from him. Come to think of it, that might be the grandest adventure of all.
Dr. Becky Towne serves Houston Graduate School of Theology as Academic Dean and Professor of Christian Spirituality.