Monday, April 30, 2012

The Richest of Fare

As I do most weeks, yesterday I ate Sunday dinner with Doña Gloria and her family.  Falling-off-the-bone tender roast chicken, white rice, red beans, pastalon (mature plantains and cheese baked into bubbly goodness), tostones (fried plantains – mmmmm!), and ensalada (fresh tomatoes and lettuce with a balsamic vinaigrette). 

For dessert we had canned fruit cocktail.  You know, pears, peaches, grapes and maraschino cherries in sugary syrup.  As I was handed my portion, I thought longingly of my freshly cut piña upstairs in my little fridge.  And, as odd as it may seem, the words of Isaiah 55 popped into my head:
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.  (vs 1-3a)

We live in a country filled with some of the freshest, sweetest, most delicious fruits I’ve ever eaten.   And, they are super inexpensive, too!  A large, perfectly ripe pineapple costs only 50 pesos (US$1.32).  Why in the world were we eating this bland, barely fruit-like stuff, when the richest of fare was ours for the taking?!      
Of course, for Dominicans, my use of canned habichuelas (red beans) is just as mind-boggling!  I secretly think that’s the reason Doña Gloria started inviting me to Sunday dinner.  She probably figures I can’t cook if I need to use canned beans, and so doesn’t want her tenant starving to death! 

For me, the flavor I’m sacrificing is worth the time and effort of soaking dried beans overnight and then having to cook them for a couple of hours.  Preparing fresh fruit and veggies still takes effort (especially here where soaking them in water with a bit of bleach is always a first step!)  But, eating fresh, delicious fruit is important to me, and so I consider it worth the trouble. 
It’s so easy for me to judge what I don’t see as important.  And, not just in food choices.  I never considered myself to be super North American, but being here has shown me just how much my culture, my worldview, impacts how I see and think and act. 

I want to share God’s truth, the joy and hope of the richest of fare He gives us in Christ Jesus.  How do I do that in a way that connects with those whose view of the world is so very different from mine?  It goes far beyond just the language barrier – which in and of itself is significant!  
God, speaking through Isaiah says we are to “Listen, listen to Me…”  “Listen, that you may live.” 

If I’m honest, often when I listen I only hear what I expect to hear.  I listen with my “orejas Americanas” (American ears), hearing what fits into my way of seeing the world.  Fresh fruit – way better than canned.  Canned beans – perfectly acceptable.
It’s not easy to re-learn how to listen!  But, being here is teaching me that if I am going to find ways to connect the truth of the Bible to those with orejas Dominicanas, I first need to listen to God’s word, which is over and above all cultures, yet able to speak into each one. 

As I learn to see things, hear things, experience things outside of my own small world, I pray I will only find my satisfaction in the Bread of Life.  I pray that through my feeble, weak efforts, the Holy Spirit will move others to seek the richest of fare, too.  That in His power, they will give ear, come, listen and live. 
And, one day, we’ll sit together at the Banquet, where we’ll delight forever, no longer thirsty and poor and weary.  Until then, may we be faithful to our Father’s invitation to come and listen… and then go out and share!      

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