Tag Archives: Rose Males

Bread. Wine. Love.

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A couple of months ago a beautiful friend from Australia surprised me by sending over a book for me to read. It was a book that her bookclub read, and she loved it so much that she wanted to share it with me. It sat on my shelf because I was swamped with writing papers for school, but once I met all my deadlines this December I was finally able to pick it up and pored over the beautiful stories of Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

The pages of this book are filled with Shauna’s memories and life experiences, all brought together by her love of food and passion to sharing beautiful meals with family and friends. With each chapter she weaves in a special dish that reminds her of that time in her life, a dish that leaves your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling with hunger because it just sounds so delicious. What makes this book so special is that at the end of the story Shauna shares the recipe with her readers, so we can experience the fabulous flavours of the food she has written about. Two nights ago I made her risotto. It was superb (if I do say so myself!)

Bread and Wine is beautiful, but at the end of each chapter I find myself wanting to crawl up into the foetal position and cry. Maybe it’s because of the time and situation of life in which I find myself right now, but her book leaves my heart heavy. Firstly, as she talks about the beautiful friendships she shares with people I feel an ache of loneliness and desire to sit around the big eight person dining room table that we used to own in Australia. I want to sit and share meals with all our closest family and friends whom we left behind when we moved to San Diego. While I have beautiful friendships here, I don’t have nearly as many, and whats more it takes hours and hours to develop those really deep and special relationships with people that can last the distance. Secondly, as Shauna talks about the pain of struggling to have a baby for years, of miscarriages, and then the hard and exhaustive pregnancy that she endured to bring her second son into the world, her stories open up deep longings and I am left desperately wanting to hold the baby we have desired to have for the past six years. The despair caused by infertility makes you do crazy things like go on diets to try and make your body more “fertile”, or have silly routines to get your menstrual cycle on the same pattern as the Luna calendar (apparently it helps), in addition to the thousands of dollars you’re spending on acupuncture, alternative medicine, and many different fertility treatments. These days I have learnt not to try to force our baby into existence by doing these things, but reading Niequist’s book opens old wounds.

Don’t get me wrong the book is beautiful, but Shauna writes with such openness and vulnerability that it leaves me terribly raw. It brings me face-to-face again with some of the pain that I have done so well to withdraw from… But I think being confronted with your pain is a good thing, and having it be brought out into the open to deal with is much healthier than pretending it doesn’t exist. When we learn to face our own hurts, discovering God’s presence in the midst of it all, we become much better prepared to meet others in their pain. I think this is one of the privileges of being human. It also reminds me of another book — The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. In a nutshell, Nouwen shows how we are living in a hurting world, and that wounded people who can work through their pain are equipped and ready to offer authentic empathy and compassion for other wounded and lonely people.

This is what I want to offer to those around me: a safe place to be vulnerable and hurt. I want to be a person who will not shy away from another’s pain, but is ready to offer hospitality to those who need to cry and talk and work through their own wounds. I pray that you can be one of these people too — that special friend who can enter into another’s pain and be with them in it. The world desperately needs more people like this, and when we can offer this then we are truly the best friends hurting people can have. The reality is that pain exists, it’s very real for all people at some stage or another, and the effects of it can run so deep, but if we cannot offer genuine love and life to those people who are in despair then what’s the point of life? Life is about more than success, having the best car, having this nicest house, or having a fabulous Instagram account. Life is about relationships. Relationships are the reason we were created, and developing strong relationships with God and people is our purpose here on earth. Relationships ask us to be there for each other in the good times, and more importantly the bad. Relationships require intentional vulnerability and hospitality towards others in their pain. But to do so requires us to face our own pain, and be ok with the wounds of our own lives.

So I am grateful that my dear friend introduced me to Shauna Niequist, and I am grateful that Shauna’s writing has opened me up to myself in a real way. Bread and Wine is a beautiful book, and one that I am going to cherish always… as well as one that I am going to enjoy splashing food and wine all over as I cook every recipe in the book!

Rediscovering Play

I watch this video and I can’t help but smile: it’s of my dog – Koby – chasing bubbles made by some girls down on La Jolla beach. What I love about Koby, and animals in general, is that they are wholeheartedly present in every moment, and will find joy in even the simplest of things. Koby wears his heart on his sleeve, and when he is having fun you can see it written all over his face. 

Watching Koby reminds me of how important it is to have fun and to play, for physical, emotional and mental health. It can be easy to forget about fun when life gets hard, when work pressures build up, painful emotions catch you off guard, family responsibilities become monotonous or boredom sets in, but without fun the tough parts of life can overwhelm us. We need to find activities that energise and renew the mind, body and soul. Activities and experiences that make us blissfully happy; this is what I am talking about when I use the words “fun” and “play.”

My husband, Chris, likes to remind me that even Jesus would have had fun while he was here on earth. Chris likes to think that there was probably a moment when Jesus was having a drink of milk and got caught off guard by a funny joke made by one of the disciples, which caused milk to spurt out his nose! I think Chris is right, because if Jesus was fully human then he would have experienced playful moments as well as tough times in life.

So I want to encourage you, that if you’re not having fun on a regular basis to consider scheduling it into your day. Think about it… we schedule in dentist appointments, meetings with clients, and weekly food shopping, so why shouldn’t we look to schedule in fun? Why shouldn’t we prioritise play?

Each one of us needs to make fun and play a priority – for our own sanity. And yet I think fun and play looks different for everyone, therefore it’s important to find the things that are fun for you. For instance, an extrovert might find fun in playing paintball with a group of friends, while an introvert might find reading a book on the porch more fun. Someone passionate about the outdoors might enjoy mountain biking, whereas someone who prefers the indoors might be more inclined to knit a sweater for fun. I think it is important for each of us to figure out what is fun for us personally, and then make sure we do those things regularly! I know that I have definitely rediscovered fun since moving to San Diego. Not that I never had fun back in Canberra, but now I find myself actively seeking out those things that I enjoy doing and doing more of them. Those moments of fun sustain me when life gets hard or overwhelming. Well, fun… and the LORD of course!

RM xx

P.S. Check out this TED Talk for some scientific research on the importance of Play : Click here

Life Interrupted

helping-others

While stopped at traffic lights on my way home from yoga last week, I noticed a man wringing out his t-shirt and socks, and hanging them over a roadside railing to dry. Judging by the state of his clothes my guess is that this man was homeless and had just washed his clothes in the San Diego River (which by the way is not the cleanest river i’ve ever seen). My first thought as I watched him dry his clothes was ‘I should go and buy that guy a new t-shirt and a pair of socks,’ but then I hesitated. Running through my head were thoughts like: I’m dripping with sweat and I’ll disturb people as I shop in Target… What if he’s not homeless and he gets offended by my assuming he is… He might not be here by the time I get back from going to the shops… I’ve got to get home and make lunch…
And so I drove on by and didn’t bother to stop and help a man who clearly looked like he was in need.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

Why don’t we stop? Why don’t we let our lives be interrupted?

For a life worth living is a life interrupted by indelible moments with others. There are numerous examples of people willing to let life be interrupted, giving their time and their resources for the sake of others: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sir Nicholas Winton, Mother Teresa, Shane Claiborne, Jesus of Nazareth.

Now our interruptions don’t have to be as radical as it was for these people. We could start with simply stopping to buy a homeless guy a new pair of socks, or being late for class because you’re making yourself available for a friend who needs to talk. It could be missing the bus to help an elderly lady get her groceries into her car, or opening your home to someone who needs a place to stay while they get back on their feet. Whatever it is, big or small, we were not created to live life in isolation from one another, rather we were created to share life with the people around us and be a blessing to them. Real joy is found in being willing to let our lives be interrupted and shared with others, especially when they are strangers who cannot return the favour.

In the situation above I could say that fear for my safety stopped me from giving to that homeless guy, but I know its just an excuse because there were plenty of people driving past so our interaction would have been public. Not wishing to disturb shoppers around me because I was sweaty is also not an excuse, nor did I have anything to do that day other than make my lunch because I am on summer break. Truthfully I have no valid reason for why I didn’t let my life be interrupted for half an hour to buy that guy some new clothes, and I regret it. I’ve thought of that guy everyday since I saw him. I wish I’d let my life be interrupted in that moment. But while I can’t change the decision I made in that moment I can learn from it, and so I am going to endeavour to stop for the people around me from now on, to let life be interrupted so that I can share indelible moments with others.

Will you join me?