Ingredients

It has been snowing all day by the time I make it home this Wednesday afternoon.  I had romantic notions of going running in the snow, all the way up the hill to “see the view,” but gave them up on the walk home from school when I noticed that:

  1. I couldn’t walk more than five steps without slipping in the three inches of new snow, piled on top of the inch of ice still unmelted by last week’s snow.
  2. There was no view to speak of, the hills obscured by the whiteness.

That tough decision made, I return home to read poems about snow (magnificent ones by William Cullen Bryant and Emily Dickinson) and make pizza.

I’m neither an overly proficient nor terribly creative cook.  Most often, what I cook is dictated by what I really want to eat.  I suppose I could buy pizza, but since I can make passably good pizza myself I generally do so.  That’s how I find myself rolling out dough and tearing up our wilted basil plant at 5:00 PM this afternoon.

It’s easier than teaching, I said to my roommate earlier, when she asked if making pizza would be too much work for an already busy evening.  I hadn’t meant it to sound tragic or tired, just to comment, as I have before, that ingredients tend to behave more predictably than people.  A pizza can work or fall apart, but I understand that in either case it had nothing to do with the will of the ingredients.  I don’t take it personally when the pizza doesn’t work out.

People are different.  Trickier.

I wait for the pizza to bake, as the kitchen fills with steamy smells of garlic and tomato, and think about what it means to create.  How comparatively easy it is to make something with soulless ingredients, their fates entirely in my hands.  The only living variable in this pizza, the yeast, is the one likeliest to cause problems, but even those multitudes are manageable.  Yeast cultures are way smaller than I am, and they can be bribed with white sugar.  I made this pizza; it does as I ask.

How different is God’s creation.  Especially this season, as we celebrate the coming of Christ to earth, I am intensely aware of the risk God assumed in offering us the freedom to live choose life with Him, or not.  How keenly God must have felt it, sending God’s only Son to humankind, ultimately to die for their wrong choice.  I think I’m being creative and daring by making a pizza; imagine telling the cheese that it could melt if it felt like it, and the wheat flour could choose to stretch into dough or could remain as grainy as sand if that felt more natural.

It’s with gratitude that I realize I’m more than an ingredient.  That, made in His image, I have the potential of loving and serving the Lord in return.  That God loved us enough to keep trying to bring us back.

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