Pigeon Loaf, God, and Me

The day I ate pigeon loaf I tried very hard to not taste it.

It really was a gigantic slab of meatloaf, entirely made out of the meat from a pigeon. That just shouldn’t be a thing.

The goal was simply to get it down my throat in front of my smiling host who looked delighted to serve it. I silently whispered the old prayer, “I’ll get it down, Lord, but you’ll have to keep it there.”

I’m guessing that you have had moments where the goal was to just get it down to avoid offending our local friends. Swallow it quick and move on. At all costs, do not think about what you’re eating, don’t ask what it is, and most certainly do not consciously focus on the taste or texture.

While that may be a decent strategy for cross-cultural politeness, I have realized that I don’t just swallow unknown foreign foods like this, but that somehow I can carry this tendency to my whole life. I have mistakenly learned to devour life rather than savor it.

I labored over teaching my sons to chew their food slowly, to not talk with their mouths full, and to actually taste the flavors of their food. But, I’ve realized that sometimes I move through life like a toddler cramming cookies in my mouth as fast as I can.

Life can easily become not just rushed, but also begin to lose its delight as I swallow experiences, relationships, and events without stopping to truly taste them. I can go days without stopping to look at the clear blue skies above me. I fly through the check out line at the grocery store and don’t even make eye contact with the cashier. I play basketball with my boys outside, but my mind is concentrating on my to do list.

I can even do this with God. I enter my quiet time with a list of unspoken expectations of how He’ll show up, and how I’ll learn and grow, and what that time will look like. I even think I know what His timeline should be in His work of sanctifying my heart (would you hurry up, God, and take away my impatience?!).

My relationship with God can become yet another place where I try to consume instead of experience. I am swallowing without tasting. Relating to God and people in my life like a slab of pigeon loaf.

I’m tired of consuming life. I want to savor.

I want to taste and hear and remember. I want to truly experience all that the Lord is writing into my story, not just get it down and move on to the next thing.

When I learn to savor life and God and people and moments, I find my heart widening. I am better able to embrace the good gifts our Father delights to give me. I am more honest with who I am and what I am experiencing. I find that the Lord is slowly cracking open the deeper places of my heart and revealing how much He loves me, even there.

I want to savor the sweet friendships and family He has given me.

I want to savor the beauty of His creation and delight in His magnificent creativity. (I mean, really, have you looked at a night sky in Africa? Or watched the sun rise on a beach in Thailand? Or, studied the millions of faces on a crowded bus and wondered at God’s heart for all those people?).

Taste and see that the Lord is good,” the Psalmist invites us.

We are being invited to savor our God. What a thought. We are invited to let His unending beauty overwhelm our senses. He really is that beautiful.

Oh, Lord, teach us to quiet our hearts…to be attentive to our souls…to be fully present with people and places and dreams and hopes and truths.

We are invited to dwell, to abide, to be still. Oh, how I long for that to be true of me. I long for my life to be characterized as a soul who savored.

I love all of the flavors of different ethnic foods. And I’m finding that the Lord has created a glorious spread of flavors in my life, in my relationships, and in Himself that I am invited to experience and enjoy.

Let’s encourage each other to slow down, take it all in, and allow our good God to enlarge our hearts.

And, wow, God. Help me to remember to never approach life and people and You, Yourself like a slab of pigeon loaf.

Where have you devoured life? Where could you savor instead of devour?

3 Comments

  1. Elizabeth July 12, 2017

    This post spoke to such deep places inside me, Renee, that I had to wait to comment until I had some uninterrupted time. Because I think you got down to the marrow of this week’s theme. A devourer: that is me. I have been known to devour food — there were years of struggling with overeating, inhaling food instead of tasting it. I have been known to devour books — just read it quickly so I can get to the next one, look at this stack of books, go, go, go! I have been known to devour podcasts and British TV without letting anything really sink in. I have even been known to devour my fingernails.

    Just the other day I was thinking, every time I leave the house and actually LOOK at the sky, I feel this sense of relief, and also regret. That I have not been looking, not taking the time to breathe it in the way I know I need. I rush through life forgetting to do some of the things that make me most human — the art, the dance, the music — because I have all these things that must be done. There are many reasons I might devour; nevertheless I am not savoring.

    That word — devour — took me straight back to Orual in C.S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces” (have you read that one?). At the end of all her troubles, a devourer is what she sees she has become, just like her murderous father, just like the greedy goddess Ungit in the temple next door. She took advantage of people, did not love them, only used them for her gain. All because she would not take off that veil (a physical veil in the story). Would not let herself be seen, could not truly see others as they really were in their vulnerabilities. I read that book in tears because in so many ways I am Orual. Selfish, yes, but also sometimes unable to take off that veil and be seen by the ones closest to me. Unable to risk intimacy — intimacy still occasionally frightens me. But savoring is interwoven with intimacy I think — taking time to know and love a person and be known and loved in return is both savoring and intimacy. And taking the time to savor something — it is risk also. We are risking being seen as frivolous or silly or not getting enough things done while we savor.

    I may say I am the devourer, but I am not always such. I have learned to savor in some things. In fact knowing what it is to savor is why I can now recognize the devourer in me. I know the difference. And so I can savor things, aware that the temptation to forgo the practice is ever near.

  2. Casual Mid-Summer Friday | Paracletos July 14, 2017

    […] Renee Aupperlee would agree with Jenilee. Savoring life is important – and difficult. Life on the mission field can be very hectic, but that’s no excuse for not taking the time to appreciate God’s presence. Your missionary friends might need to read this. […]

  3. Rhonda July 19, 2017

    Thanks Renee! Definitely can relate to what you are saying. Last summer, Father worked on me to slow down and enjoy everything and all those around me. Those who know me well were very surprise that I actually slowed down. They didn’t think it could happen. A matter fact neither did I but I worked hard at it because the Father asked me to. Since then I have try to put into practice ‘savouring’ those around me, time with my students, colleagues and the wonders of creation that surround us. It is hard in the field and in life overall but it is sweet when we can savour what is around us.Thanks again!

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