In the beginning, God created lamb poutine

My wife and I had a getaway this past weekend and it was inspiring. We enjoyed great food and drinks prepared by artists. It’s amazing to see the imagination and creativity of the chefs. From the menu to the plating and the cocktail glass. The words chosen to describe the dishes and drinks are meant to stimulate your imagination so that you can foresee that which is yet to come. The arrangements on the plate and the glass are a beautiful canvas and a feast for the eyes. The ingredients selected to make them are fresh and delicious so as to awaken your taste buds and increase sensations throughout your entire body. An experience that comes together as you read, see, taste and savour. Each plate and each drink is a creation brought into existence by its creator and meant to capture all your senses. It is good.

None of these were put together in a rush nor were they put together at random. They began in the mind of a genius. Someone not afraid to try new things. Someone put ideas to paper and then put ingredients to the ideas. Someone created and re-created until the perfect plate and the perfect drink were formed. Words are limited in the way they can describe someone else’s art. As close as I got to those plates and those drinks, my words can’t appropriately capture the creator and his work. They are an oversimplified breakdown of what actually happened, a limited description conveying truth but not meant to be accurate. The best I can do is describe what I see and taste using words and concepts that I’m familiar with. Someone with a culinary background could use a completely different set of words to describe to you the same experience.

As I was enjoying a Lamb Poutine at the Andaz’s Feast & Revel, it got me thinking.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Maybe it began with a spark, or as some have called it, a bang! A big bang. How could it be otherwise? Life in the hands of creative genius. Free from the limits of time and not confined by due dates or someone else’s timeline, God began shaping his canvas. With no one telling him his project needed to be completed within a certain number of days, he began his endless work of art. One day as one thousand and one thousand days as one. Stroke after stroke. Breath after breath. Movement after movement. Attempt after attempt. Color after color. Each step slowly shaped into its next form like a potter shapes her clay. Declaring as good every step, every detail, every addition, every change.

As we ate, I was sharing why I think, for example, that reading Genesis 1 and concluding that God created the entire universe in a literal 6 days just a few thousand years ago lacks imagination, understanding and, I would add, robs and discredits God. If God is eternal, why is it so difficult to imagine he could have been busy shaping the universe for millions and even billions of years. He’s always been there, and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so why the rush? Our growing understanding of how the world works at the very least makes it plausible even if we don’t have all the pieces and are just scratching the surface. Why couldn’t he be slowly shaping and designing the world we know? Given the quantity of galaxies currently identified in the universe and all those our telescopes have likely not yet reached, it stands to reason that there might be much more going on out there than we can grasp. The chef is capable of much more than words can describe. Not grasping it all is not an excuse for not dreaming. Not fully comprehending is not an excuse for rejecting ideas simply because they don’t line up with what we had previously believed to be the truth. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to grow in our understanding of the world and universe we live in as we discover new facts. Just as we are limited in our ability to describe what we now know, so were the authors who wrote texts like Genesis 1. They communicated the reality of a world desired and created by a loving God. They did not claim to know how it had come to be but simply that it had.

When my lamb poutine was brought to me I had little idea how it had come to be but there it was. If I tried to describe it, you would literally think I was describing a cake and I would not be lying. Yet, it was a poutine. Just not the traditional kind.

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Prayer Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Prayer might not be what you think it is.

You may have heard stories of people who prayed for something, maybe for a loved one to be freed from cancer, and it didn’t happen. You may also have heard similar stories of people who prayed the same prayer and their loved one did heal from cancer. You may have heard stories about people praising God for sparing their home in the aftermath of a tornado while the house down the street is ripped to shreds.

Hearing these stories and considering my own often gets me thinking about prayer.

The idea of Santa Clause isn’t all that far-fetched when you think about it. Ask the guy up north and make your requests. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for, if you’re not, well, try again next year.

Prayer is often approached in the same way. Pray to the guy upstairs and make your requests known. If you’re good he’ll give you what you asked for. Unless of course he doesn’t. If you’re not good he won’t listen. Unless of course he does.

Prayer is quite arbitrary if it’s just about the answer because the answers to your prayers are quite random. It’s like a roll of the dice. Some heal and some don’t. Your house is left standing but not the other. There is no answer. It is what it is. Maybe it’s all part of a bigger plan, maybe it isn’t. It certainly feels nice to believe there is a God in control. I’m not suggesting there isn’t but rather proposing that our understanding of “control” may not be accurate.

Regardless, on the ground it doesn’t make much of a difference. You may or may not heal. You may or may not get the job. Things may or may not go your way. Whether or not they do is perhaps not the point.

Think about it. If prayer is about the answer, we’re constantly left scrambling, trying to understand and making up explanations to make sense of things. God answered because of this or he didn’t answer because of that. The gymnastics involved can be quite exhausting and ridiculous.

Why pray? It must be about more than just answers.

Perhaps prayer makes more sense if it’s about your disposition. Prayer, if anything, is about positioning yourself in awe and wonder or maybe in anger and confusion. It’s an acknowledgment that most things, if not all, are out of your control, arbitrary and chaotic.

Prayer, then, is preparation for what is coming. It is to say, “while I do not have control I choose to remain in the moment and roll with the punches. I will not give up and surrender. I will not lose hope. I acknowledge how easily I can become angry, jaded, self-centred and cynical. I don’t want that.”

Prayer, not unlike other approaches to meditation, is about zoning in on your heart, your soul and your attitude vis-à-vis the variety of things going on in and around you. If you believe in God, your prayer is addressed to that God whom you believe is in control and working to make all things good. Others will find their center within themselves, something or someone else. The purpose is the same. To be whole. To live well. To make sense of things. Opening yourself up to listen, observe and hear.

The thing is, prayer might not be what you think it is. What if it’s not only about what you ask for and not only about whether you get the answer you’re looking for?