March 30, 2012

The Sixth [meatless] Friday of Lent

I believe I experienced an entirely new understanding of love when I found, and joined, the Episcopal church. My previous perceptions of myself, my God, and what God could possibly think of me cannot simply be blamed on that old “Catholic Guilt” of my childhood. I befriended many evangelical friends throughout my teenage and college years who presented an alternative view. Still, I was continually directed towards this portrait of a God who expected perfection, performance, and success in a form that seemed more about outward portrayal than inward transformation. This was my experience through nine years of Bible studies and new-age churches, but, still merely my own.

When I found the Episcopal church, through relationships with priests and passionate friends, I found healing. It was then I realized I had spent nearly twenty years believing in a God that never approved of me—how, then, could I truly love myself? In the Episcopal church, I encountered a God who already loved me and was not asking me to earn anything, or torment myself for his approval. A God who accepted me despite my shortcomings, and wanted me to love myself the same.

I immediately appreciated the Church’s acceptance for all faiths and peoples. This maturing love evolved into my new-found affection for ethnic foods and cultures unique from my own. One way I have come to appreciate and engage in new cultures is through unfamiliar foods; it allows me to connect with new people over the simplest bond: a common meal. My adoration of Indian food, though recent, runs deep. I hope you face a fun culinary challenge with today’s meatless Friday inspiration: fluffy (fool-proof!) basmati with spinach and fried cheese.