Monday, August 20, 2012


O Lord, you have searched me and
    known me.
You know when I sit down and when I
   rise up;
you discern my thoughts from  far away.
You search out my path and my
   lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.    Psalm 139:1-3

“Hi. I’m Roland.”

We already knew this, of course, being his parents and all.  Still, we were charmed by our son’s use of a movie line tailored to the purpose of introducing himself.

The line came from Finding Nemo, a movie about father and son fish who get separated, and about their adventures in reuniting and returning to the place where they belong.  The piece of the script that Roland chose came from a group meeting held by sharks trying to give up their fish-eating habit.  Mimicking traditional 12 step meetings, each participant begins by introducing himself.  I suppose Roland likes imagining himself at that meeting, and I think he is doing well.  He almost never eats fish.

When I hear my son offer his name in the style of such meetings, I think about how important it is for us to be able to say who we are.  Identity is such a complex thing.  Most of us would likely struggle to really offer a clear picture of ourselves.  Each one of us is such a complicated mixture of natural inclination combined with culture, relationship, location and time.  It is often excruciatingly difficult to know ourselves.  In truth, beyond our first name, how accurately can we introduce this complicated compound of humanity called me or you?

I imagine the first step in self-understanding lies in acknowledging the unfathomable mystery of ourselves and the God who made us.  Beyond the image we would like to project, there lies intricacy and beauty that only God could fashion.  The first step in comprehending it is the realization that we are beloved, carefully built by our creator, and that each part of us – even the less pleasing aspects – are blessed and purposeful.

Another important piece of our identity arises from the people who inhabit our lives, and from the ways we share with each other.  Roland’s presentation came at a dinner we had with friends.  (Soon their children were introducing themselves to each other and to us following the same cadence and tone.)  I served several items from the Bass cookbook, including broccoli salad, a dish I have eaten at countless covered dish lunches and family dinners.  It is a part of a tradition and a culture that has shaped me.  If you asked me to describe myself, broccoli salad would not feature strongly.  In fact, I am not likely to mention it at all.  But it is one of surely millions of invisible factors that have formed me into the person I am today, for better or worse - one of the subtle influences that tell me where I belong.

What are some of the foods, the relationships, the traditions that have shaped you?

Blessed eating!

Broccoli Salad
2 heads broccoli, coarsely chopped    ¾-1 c. red or sweet onion, ch.
½ c. raisins                                                  ½ c. toasted pecans, ch.
½ c. real bacon bits
Mix all ingredients.  Add the dressing below and marinate at least 24 hours.
Broccoli Dressing:
2 T. red wine vinegar                                  ¾ fat free mayo
½ c. sugar
Place in a container and shake until well mixed.  Pour over the broccoli mixture. – Wanda Barnes

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