Here is where I explain this little series of meditations...
Deuteronomy 8:6-10; Psalm 63; John 2:1-11
One of my favorite cinematic scenes is from the movie, Chocolat - actually, many of my favorite scenes are from that movie - when a table full of people who might not otherwise have sat down together are invited to dinner. A savory meal is served, and there is stunned silence as luscious dark chocolate is poured over the roast on every plate. Slowly and politely, the guests close their mouths around a first forkful, and I'm a moment as full of mystery and grace as what happens at the altar, the flavors mingle into something more than a meal to nourish the body. It is a strangely intimate scene as deep delight fills their faces, and they look at one another and smile. Their story lines have carrie them through loss and longing, sickness and sin, humiliation, loneliness, and despair. But each has also learned that they are loved and capable of more than they ever imagined. That night they become friends. That night they taste communion.
Our sense of taste has the primal function of alerting us to foods that are energy-rich and foods that are poisonous, but most of the time it is the most luxurious of all our senses, enhancing our experience of the mundane and necessary act of eating. Hundreds of thousands of receptor cells in our taste buds recognize molecules in our food and register them as sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or savory. Then...well, that's actually about all we know for certain about the neurological path from the food we eat to the place in our brains where gustatory information is processed, which means, I guess, I have to accept my son's insistence that he doesn't know why he doesn't like Brussels sprouts, he just doesn't.
So how is Jennifer going to connect all this to knitting and quilting? She wasn't sure either, at first. "What wonders there are to behold," is the refrain we have repeated in our worship here, morning and evening, like so many psalmists before us in scripture. This world God made, by God's own admission, is very good, and we were given eyes and ears and noses and hands to delight in it, and so to delight in God. We see how beautifully the shades of blue in that quilt shift from dark to light, or how gently that instructor guides a knitter's hands to the next stitch. We hear the rhythmic hum of sewing machines, the soft sighs of an iron. We smell wool and suddenly remember a pair of mittens our grandmother made. We feel yarn flow through our fingers, fabric flow beneath our hands, the weight and warmth of a finished piece. What wonders there are to behold!
We taste...well, here is a wonder. Our physical sense of taste is so particular, so unique for each person, that we have come to use the word to describe our creative preferences, what we wear, how we decorate, what our favorite fibers or colors or patterns are. Quilter Susan Towner-Larsen describes creativity as a juicy process, like eating a Georgia peach when it's just-right-ripe, succulent and sweet, eaten outside or over a sink. We're aware of how the peach looks, how it smells, how it feels, how it sounds when we slurp its nectar in. We taste that peach as it fills us, and just as God in this delicious way nourishes our bodies, so does God also feed our souls a juicy capacity for creative expression according to our taste.
We are fed through all our senses, writes knitter Susan Gordon-Lyon. "From the first rhythm we hear, our mother's heartbeat, we expand our awareness and comprehension of the world around us, and we seek to duplicate its beauty and fathom its secrets by depicting it in symbols and patterns. Pioneer quilt makers expressed what they saw in their world: flying geese, tumbling blocks, double wedding rings, Virginia reels, as well as stories and myths that lent mystery to their lives, such as the story of Jacob's Ladder. In the intricate knitting combinations used in Aran sweaters, the names of the stitches tell stories of the knitter's world: marriage lines (up and down), honeycomb, blackberry vines, ocean waves, the tree of life."
What have you tasted? What are we called to create? Our faith is in a Word made Incarnate, who made the blind to see and the deaf to hear, turned water into wine, washed smelly feet, and touched the untouchable. In all the shapes we have cut and seams we have sewn and colors we have chosen and stitches we have knit here this weekend, this, the pattern of Christ, is what we have duplicated. This has been, and is, our best creative work: our listening to one another's stories as we stitched, our offering of helping hands, our seeing and celebrating each other's hard work, our prayers whispered, our laughter shared, our chocolate savored, our gathering here in this chapel.
At this table, as we celebrate our holy communion, we will see and hear and smell and touch and taste who we are - the Body of Christ, knit together from many and diverse threads, a beautiful patchwork of people, each of us loved and cherished by God. What wonders there are to behold.
And at this table, we can see and hear and smell and touch and taste who we also are - a community of knitters and quilters and the companions who came with us, women and men with the capacity to create, each according to our taste but all for the purpose of making the world more beautiful and warm and wrapped in love. It's more like a potluck than a sit-down dinner, for each of us brings something different and wonderful to the table - quilts, scarves, hats, humor, wisdom; different shapes, colors textures and fragrances; and many different tastes. Let us feast. What wonders there are to behold! Amen.