Mysterious Theologian: Ryan Josef-Maier
Dave Brauer-Rieke challenges, Ryan Josef-Maier, cook, a teacher, asker of impertinent questions and enjoyer of board games with the following:
A culinary artist puts his heart and soul into a special meal. The time, the vision, the seasonings, the presentation. Everything has to be just right. There is no one dish or course that communicates the full experience of a dinner well conceived and executed. The wine is carefully selected. The ambiance of the dining room set just so. Every scent, texture and image must merge into one, harmonious whole. And then, some total idiot doesn’t know how to carve the roast properly. Who are these people that can ruin a carefully constructed gift of grace with a simple sawing of a dull, ill kept and poorly applied carving knife? Why are they allowed to life?!
The challenge, Ryan, is to find God in the worthless soul of such a creature. Where is God in the soul-less destruction of the culinary masterpiece shown below. You alone understand the horror of this image. Where is God in such a travesty?
The prayer (to be recited silently):
“Lord of feasts and families, thank you for another Easter dinner with the ones I love, for another year of life, and for this.. meal, which I lovingly prepared, and which was served with — really — the best of intentions. I am grateful that Grandpa carved the roast as he has every year, as he has for as long as I can remember. And thank you that, as he sawed my perfectly cooked rib roast with the wrong side of the knife, and clawed at it with the carving fork like a buzzardy version of Captain Hook, a truth was revealed that I’ve never seen at the table before. Meat is muscle; it came from a living thing. Only seeing the uncut structure of the muscle fibers could show this so clearly. Thank you Lord, for this reminder. It keeps me humble.
That Grandpa is enfeebled by loneliness and mourning is clearly shown in his “work.” But at least tonight he’s not alone. Tonight, we prepare to enjoy $130 worth of dry-aged, grass-fed, sustainable beef I bought and prepared, which is now heaped on our plates in shreds too small to taste or hunks too large to chew. Because tonight, nobody had the heart to stop him from destroying it. And for that I am so grateful. As he huffed and grunted, and ill-used his tools, and cursed me for overcooking the roast, all of us knew not to say anything. Perhaps, for him, there was comfort in the sameness of the ritual. Incredibly, for me, there was indeed. Amen.”
Ryan challenges for Clare Josef-Maier, a diaconal minister and pastoral counselor at Lutheran Counseling Network in Seattle, WA.
Look at these travel-sore, wrinkled toes. Be glad you can’t smell them (the website I took this from assures us that they smelled awful). This foot, and another quite like it, has been stuffed in a sweaty sock and shoe for 13 hours, and in constant friction for that time, writhing against its fetid cocoon. Where, oh where is God in this foot?