Book Review: Bread and Wine – Part Two

A continuation of my last post. More favorite quotes from Shauna Niequist’s latest book that I want to buy for every single person I love.

“Recipes are how we learn all the rules, and cooking is knowing how to break them to suit our tastes or preferences. Following a recipe is like playing scales, and cooking is jazz.”

“What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

“What I’m finding is that a lot of it is about shame, about the ways we feel inferior, and because of those feelings, we hide. And of course, it’s all fun and games to talk about those ideas, and then the next thing you know, you’re in your husband’s gym socks and your kitchen stinks.”

“You’ll miss the richest moments in life – the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love – if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.”

“Part of eating at someone’s table is learning about the tastes and textures and flavors of their home, and part of eating at someone’s table is understanding that homes are not restaurants and your host is not a short-order cook.”

“She teaches me, through her words and her actions, that if you take the next right step, if you live a life of radical and honest prayer, if you allow yourself to be led by God’s Spirit, no matter how far from home and familiarity it takes you, you won’t have to worry about what you want to be when you grow up. You’ll be too busy living a life of passion and daring.”

“We don’t learn to love each other well in the easy moments. Anyone is good company at a cocktail party. But love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right, when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up uninvited with magazines and granola bars, in an effort to say, I love you.”

“But I’m using the word fasting these days as an opposite term to feasting – yin and yang, up and down, permissions and discipline, necessary slides back and forth along the continuum of how we feed ourselves.”

“Maybe certain people can develop a food perspective that they maintain seamlessly twelve months a year. Good for them. Maybe that’s something I’ll be able to do when I’m all grown-up and filled with moderation and wisdom. Probably not, though.”

“But I’m learning that feasting can only exist healthfully – physically, spiritually, and emotionally – in a life that also includes fasting.”

“What I eat and what I drink are little moments of joy throughout the day – the things I think about, plan around, daydream about.”

“The very things you think you need most desperately are the things that can transform you the most profoundly when you do finally decide to release them…I learn the hard way that the thing I’m clinging to can be the thing that sets me free.”

“There has to be a way to live with health and maturity and intention while still honoring the part of me that loves to eat, that sees food as a way to nurture and nourish both my body and my spirit…At some points, gobbling up life with every bite; in other seasons, mastering the appetites and tempering the desires.”

**C.S. Lewis – “God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.”

“I love food that connects us to good memories, that tells us we’re safe, that brings us back to sweeter times on hard days.”

“My intention for this season is present over perfect.”

“The voice of God invites us to full, whole living – to rest, to abundance, to enough. To say no. To say no more. Tp say I’m going to choose to live wholly and completely in the present, even through this ragged, run-down person I am right now is so far from perfect.”

“She said you carry them inside you, collecting them along the way, more and more and more selves inside you with each passing year, life those Russian dolls, stacking one inside the other, nesting within themselves, waiting to be discovered , one and then another.”

“I resist and kick at discipline every chance I get, and then when I break down and do something hard, I find that it builds something in me, that it makes me stronger, not just in that area but in all sorts of areas.”

“I tend to think that when everything is going well, I have the margin to do hard things, to make good choices…But its’ really the opposite, isn’t it? It’s the making of those harder, better choices right while everything’s a mess that makes the mess a little more manageable.”

“But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be.”

“As is always the case for me at farmers markets, I intended to buy herbs and lettuces and left with baked goods and cheese, but such is life, and certainly such is vacation.”

“But as time went on, I realized that the major things were happening all around me, and that more often than not, I had been missing them because my phone had become an extension of my hand, and what it said to people, essentially, is that just being with them isn’t enough.”

“Being everywhere was keeping me from being anywhere, from being in any one very particular place.”

“I was totally there, totally in it, without feeling like my mind was divided into a thousand small splinters, spinning out all over the world, leaving nothing but a glassy stare and twitchy fingers always reaching for my phone.”

“It was unnatural and I liked it, and I think back to that week often, to how non-fragmented my brain and spirit felt, how little I missed on Pinterest and Facebook. I think about how valuable it is to live the life in front of you, regardless of how tempting it is to press your face to the glass of other people’s lives online, even though doing that is so much safer and so entirely addictive.”

“We fragment our minds for a reason, of course – because we like the idea of being sixty-seven other places instead of the one lame, lonely place we find ourselves on some days.”

***Robert Farrar Capon – “Food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world. Every day of our lives, they preoccupy, delight, and refresh us. Food is not just some fuel we need to get us going toward higher things. Cooking is not a drudgery we put up with in order to get the fuel delivered. Rather, each is a heart’s astonishment. Both stop us dead in our tracks with wonder. Even more, they sit us down evening after evening, and in the company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity.”

“No one’s actually thinking about me as often as I think they are. Probably my friends are not actually counting the days till summer to see if I’ve finally turned into a supermodel.”

“I want to dare to exist and, more than that, to live audaciously, in all my imperfect, lumpy, scarred glory, because the alternative is letting shame win.”

“Because Todd is my only sibling, and I am his, there’s something completely singular about our relationship. There’s no one on earth who has shared our history, no one on earth who can see the world from the corner that we alone inhabit.”

“That’s how it felt, like we were a part of something lovely and otherworldly, not like we went to a place but like we were a part of a thing – a rich and gorgeous thing, a happening, a moment in time that we’d keep with us all our lives, like wearing a locket around your neck.”

“Baking bread feels so deeply right, on so many levels, like going back to the beginning.”

“Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in this world – this tactile, physical, messy, and beautiful world – no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness.”

“The idea of a Savior, of a sacrifice, of body and blood so many centuries ago, fills our senses and invades our present when our fingers break bread and our mouths fill with wine.”

“When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ.”

“When the table is full, heavy with platters, wine glasses scattered, napkins twisted and crumpled, forks askew, dessert plates scattered with crumbs and icing, candles burning down low – it’s in those moments that I feel a deep sense of God’s presence and happiness.”

“Bread is the food of the poor and wine the drink of the privileged, and that every time we see those two together, we are reminded of what we share instead of what divides us.”

“We live in a world that values us for how fast we go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I’m coming to believe it’s in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies there.”

“But that if you can satiate a person’s hunger, you can get a glimpse of their heart. There’s an intimacy in it, in the meeting of needs and the filling of one’s stomach, that it, necessarily, tied to the heart.”

“I want you to live with wild and gorgeous abandon, throwing yourself into each day, telling the truth about who you are and who you are not, writing a love song to the world itself and to the God who made every inch of it.”


Book Review: Bread and Wine – Part One

If you read about my winter break reading list, you’ll know I really wanted to read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I got it for Christmas and haven’t put it down since! I’ll probably finish it tomorrow, but I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments so far.  This is less of a book review and more of a collection of things I read that made me go, “Wow, that’s so my life.” I feel like I’ve known Shauna forever.  She writes with such a raw, vulnerable, honest, passionate, and down-to-earth voice. She talks about everything from travel memories, cooking mishaps and  successes, the ups and downs in the lives of her loved ones, saying yes to running a marathon finally, her journey to self acceptance and finding balance, and learning to live each day focused on the things that matter most. I can see, smell, taste the meals in her kitchen as well as feel the love in her home as I read. We share such a similar view of the world and the place of food in that world. I want to have dinner with her one day, I’m not even kidding. Anyway, this is going to be a multiple series, because I have too many favorite quotes from this book already. Enjoy this sneak peak and go buy it here! Also check out her own website and blog here.

“Whenever my jeans are too tight, I’m reminded that I know better than to love bread the way I do, but love is blind, and certainly beyond reason.”

“More than that, I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean that I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine. Like every Christian, I recognize the two as food and drink, and also, at the very same time, I recognize them as something much greater – mystery and tradition and symbol. Bread is bread, and wine is wine, but bread-and-wine is another thing entirely. The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.”

“It’s the thing that connects us, that bears our traditions, our sense of home and family, our deepest memories, and, on a practical level, our ability to live and breathe each day. Food matters.”

“All through the stories about God and his people, there are stories about food, about all of life changing with the bite of an apple, about trading an inheritance for a bowl of stew, about waking up to find the land littered with bread, God’s way of caring for his people; about a wedding where water turned to wine, Jesus’ first miracle; about the very first Last Supper, the humble bread and wine becoming,  for all time, indelibly linked to the very body of Christ, the center point for thousands of years of tradition and belief. It matters. It mattered then, and it matters now, possibly even more so, because it’s a way of reclaiming some of the things we may have lost alined the way.”

“What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table.”

“There’s something entirely satisfying in a modern, increasingly virtual world about something so elemental – heat, knife, sizzle.”

“When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of the ands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat.”

“I can’t imagine life without a table between us.”

“That’s how this is for me. I’ve been catastrophizing about my weight since I was six. I’ve lost the pounds and gained them, made and abandoned plans and promises, cried tears of frustration, pinched the backs of my upper arms with a hatred that scares me…And through all that, I’ve made friends and fallen in love, gotten married and become a mother. I’ver written and traveled and stayed up late with people I love. I’ve walked on the beach and on glittering city streets. I’ve kissed my baby’s cheeks and danced with my husband and laughed till i cried with my best friends, and through all that it didn’t really matter that I was heavier than I wanted to be.”

“I think about the food and the people and the things we might discover about life and about each other. I think about the sizzle of oil in a pan and the smell of rosemary released with a knife cut. And it could be that that’s how God made me the moment I was born, and it could be that that’s how God made me along the way as I’ve given up years of secrecy and denial and embarrassment. It doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that one of the ways we grow up is by declaring what we love.”

“But it’s a lovely process, with not a minute wasted.”

“I’m not talking about cooking as performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

“Risotto lets you know what’s happening at every turn . Risotto-making is the exact opposite of baking, where it all happens in the oven without you. Risotto shouts out each step, invites you to notice each change. It’s physical and active and clear.”

“I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of roundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that he sees what I can’t, that he’s weaving a future I can’t imagine from where I sit this morning.”

“As more and more of us watch more and more shows on the Food Network and the like, we actually cook less and less.”

“For many years, I only ate meat that was boneless because it freaked me out and made me feel overly carnivorous and animal-like to wrestle with wiggly, slippery bones. All of a sudden, fast-forward to me burying a ten-inch knife into a venison shoulder and, in the process, ending up with deer blood all over my shoes.”

“But then you find yourself holding a very sharp chef’s knife and you realize all at once that it doesn’t matter what you’ve read or seen or think you know. You learn it, really learn it, with your hands. With your fingers and your knife, your nose and your ears, your tongue and your muscle memory, learning as you go.”

“What I’m finding is that when I’m hungry, lots of times what I really want more than food is an external voice to say, ‘You’ve done enough. It’s OK to be tired. You can take a brea. I’ll take care of you. I see how hard you’re trying.’ There is, though, no ice that can say that except the voice of God. The work I’m doing now is to let those words fall deeply on me, to give myself permission to be tired, to be weak, to need.”

“I want so badly to release my stronghold on my plan, my way, my calendar. I want to be the kind of Christian who really does believe God holds the future and that even my best guesses are just that. I want to live without anxiety, fear, and deadlines. But it seems that every chance I get, I grab back those pretend reins and allow myself to believe the myth that I’m in control.”

“And I began to understand what drove the acronyms and slogans and the almost violent positivity: you need it, that kind of enthusiasm, to get you up that early, to prod you along those miles.”

“It’s all out there, with nothing but the drumbeat of your feet and the rhythm of your ragged breath and the green of the trees on the path.”

“People are sometimes horrified when they hear that I wandered so many big cities all alone as a young teenager, but I found that people all over the world were charming and helpful, and that there might not be as much to fear as we think.”

“As we traveled, food became a language for understanding, even more so than museums or history lessons.”

“I hold all these places and flavors with me, like a fistful of shiny coins, like a charm bracelet. I want to be everywhere at once…I want it all – all the tastes, all the smells, all the stories and memories and traditions, all the textures and flavors and experiences, all running down my chin, all over my fingers.”

“Sometimes people ask me why I travel so much, an why we travel with Henry so often. I think they think it’s easier to keep the kids at home, in their routines, surrounded by their stuff. It is. But we travel because it’s there. Because Capri exists and Kenya exists and Tel Aviv exists, and I want to taste every bite of it.”