ugly salad, divine preparation

(it is completely the fault of the blog creator that i cannot get this darn picture to rotate correctly. so you can tilt your head to the side or just know that the salad looks the same from every angle because it's in a round bowl...)
(by katie steele)

Yesterday afternoon I went to one of Houston’s many Foto Fest venues. It was at a church down the street from my home, and the topic for the installation was “Thin Places”. As described to me by one of the artists, the phrase Thin Places is used in reference to those moments in life where your physicality and emotional realm are stretched and pulled  to the point of near transparency.

In those places of heightened awareness, exhaustion, rawness, pure joy, or some other singularly focused moment, you are brought into uniquely close proximity with the divine. Regardless of your practice of faith, there are many stories and examples of the direct correlation between the depletion of self and deep encounter with divinity. The Thin Places exhibit explored images of mourning, the process of bearing life, a blackened night sky made bright with a blurred circle of stars, and several others. It was moving, beautiful, and bittersweet.

My daily routines and habits have ebbed away from spiritual, faith-based circles and shifted into a more superficial existence. In this season of my life, being stretched looks more like bad celebrity facial work than an internal encounter with the divine. Visiting the exhibit provided space for me to reflect for a few fleeting moments on my desire a more profound, intentional connection to spiritual life.

I read a book about St. Benedict a long time ago, and was reminded last night of two guiding principles in his approach to the practice of spirituality: Be present and attentive to each day and task given to us, and practice gratitude. Although I am far from being able to engage with the intensity of a Thin Place, I can handle practicing mindfulness and practicing gratitude is a much needed challenge.

As I made dinner I chopped kale, peeled cheerfully bright strips of carrots, drained limes of every last drop of juice, toasted seeds until they were fragrant, cubed an avocado and then used my bare hands to toss and mash everything together. I was aware of the sharp tang of citrus, the earthiness of the sesame seeds, the bitter scent of kale, and the creaminess of a mashed avocado. These colors, textures, flavors are enticing on their own, and together they became downright seductive. It took fewer than 30 minutes to put this salad together, but those 30 minutes of reflection and tactile, sensory appreciation felt invaluable to me.

Live this life, and do whatever is done, in a spirit of Thanksgiving… Every day carries the potential to bring the experience of heaven; have the courage to expect good from it. (St. Benedict)

Kale Carrot and Avocado Salad

1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped 
2 cups grated carrots 
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 
2 tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice 
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 
1/2 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your hands or the back of a large spoon to thoroughly mash avocado into kale. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to allow kale to soften.


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