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Unlike fast food, which is served and sometimes even consumed with considerable haste, “slow food” grants you time to linger; time to savor; time to let your mind wander to far away places, then return home again; time to think; time to thank.

The first meal on my sabbatical and silent retreat two weeks ago was a rather simple one: a cup of potato soup, a small plate of salad, a piece of whole wheat bread, a slice of cheese, and a glass of water.  But, the meal was so much more than initially and superficially met the eye.

I knew from home gardening that potatoes take about 90 days to grow and mature to harvest.  I wondered, “Were these grown locally?  Were they raised, processed, and shipped from hundreds of miles away?  How long did it take for the iceberg lettuce to grow for my salad?”  Ditto the cumulative growing time for the spinach, carrots, celery, radishes, and tomatoes.

The wheat in the bread came from heads of grain that at one time had waved in the wind.  I remembered Jesus’ words, “I am the bread of life,” and, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  It was leavened bread.  Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to yeast at work in a batch of dough.  According to the warnings of Scripture, evil influences also spread like leaven.  The salt that I sprinkled on my soup made an immediate, noticeable, positive difference. “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said.

How old was the cow from which the milk came that went into making the cheese? Did I mention it was aged cheese? Tack on even more time!

This meal had been years in the making!

Just a glass of water, but… the waters above the expanse, and the waters beneath it; waters gathered into seas; the mist that irrigated the Garden of Eden; water pouring from the windows of heaven and gushing from the fountains of the deep for 40 days and nights; the Red Sea; water flowing from a rock; the Jordan River; Jesus’ baptism by John; six jars of water; no, wait; correction; six jars of wine; the Sea of Galilee; water to wash the disciples’ feet; “I am thirsty”; water and blood; 3,000 immersed on the Day of Pentecost; my own baptism into Jesus Christ and the washing away of my sins; the gift of a glass of clean, clear, uncontaminated drinking water, a blessing sadly unknown to millions of people in this world.

A simple meal?  Hardly!  It was an amazing meal!

“Thank you, Father, for your gracious and abundant blessings. Thank you for my daily bread.”

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