The existence of ‘self’ is what keeps everybody from confronting their fears about the ground they happen to be standing on.
I’ve never been a part of any organized worship, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. About one thing having enough power for someone to actually single it out as an exalted entity. My parents came from Conservative Jewish and Sunday Protestant families respectively, so my sister and I weren’t raised “religious” in the truest sense of the word. We know why there’s a three-day gap between Good Friday and Easter (it’s actually not this) and we can recite the Hanukkah blessings in Hebrew (which probably has more to do with liking to sing and less to do with studying religious text), but that’s pretty much the extent of it. When I was younger I sometimes felt like I missed out, as never got to complain about Sunday School nor did I have a Bat Mitzvah. Looking back, I understand I was—albeit unconsciously—given a fairly unique opportunity to explore my own relationship with worship. And while I’m attracted to certain aspects of religion, particularly to the sense of community involved in belonging to a house of worship, and to theological storytelling, I didn’t, and still don’t really, have a yearning to practice. Religion aside, I’ve never felt as though I regard anything with enough devotion to throw around the term “worship”. At least, not for something that doesn’t seem cliche or obvious. It means too much.
I prefer when people are honest. I like when it’s cloudy outside. I enjoy 85% dark chocolate. But I don’t worship “Truth” or “Nature” or “Theobroma cacao”. Someone asked me last year if I worshiped anything, likely as a test, because this person already had their semi-pseduo-intellectual answer ready to go. I vaguely recall saying something pretentious, like “food and the actions that come with it”, but that was a cop out. I have yet to find something so powerful that I feel the need to proclaim its control over how live my life, because honestly, that feels like it can get tricky. Am I doing things because I like them, or because I made the sweeping declaration to hold myself to a certain set of standards? Maybe it’s good to have dogma, but only if one can admit it may not stay the same forever. This has less to do with religion and more to do with worship in the ritualistic sense.
I can say with certainty that food is a powerful element of my life. I use it to ensure that I feel good. I try not to let it become something that controls every choice I make, but I can often fall into that pattern. I’d like to involve food in my future career, difficult as that may be. It’s personal and important, but it is not Everything (with a capital E). My favorite part about having to feed myself at school last year was that when I went grocery shopping, I controlled every element of my purchases. If I wanted to buy 25 cans of coconut milk I could. If I wanted to eat stir fry (or kale salad or Cocoa Puffs) for dinner five nights in a row, I could. There was no one telling me they’re bored of that meal, or they don’t like this particular vegetable, etc. It’s all extremely selfish, but sometimes it’s good to think about yourself.
Since I moved back home, breakfast seems to be the one meal where I can consistently eat whatever I want. I miss being able to make simply what pleases me, and I know I’ll have that again someday. But that day is not today. So in the meantime I will break up a ginger date breakfast cookie over yogurt and be okay with it.
Speaking of worship, horrific events like those that occurred at the University of Missouri on Wednesday, and in Paris (and Beirut and in Baghdad) on Friday only cause me –and many others, I imagine– to question further whether there is any sort of higher power controlling this world. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands lost their sense of security this week. No one can give a reason why, except for the chillingly open-ended term that seems to encapsulate so many recent acts of violence. If, like me, you’re another person in the States feeling helpless, it looks like the very least we can do is stay aware, alert, and supportive. I’m trying to read as much as I can about the events, I hope if you can spare the time you do the same.
Crumbly Ginger Date Breakfast Cookies (very loosely adapted from The Vibrant Table)
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
2 large pieces crystalized ginger
4 pitted deglet noor dates
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the flours, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the almond milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and fold together.
Finely chop the ginger and dates, and add to the batter along with the cocoa nibs. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop cookies onto the prepared tray.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are golden brown. In the meantime, combine the extra coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take the cookies out of the oven and while they’re warm place the sugar mixture in a fine mesh sieve and dust over the tops of the cookies.