Chopping parsley and smashing garlic cloves the other day, my mind wandered to a desert monastery I used to visit in California. The recipe from This Good Food (French Vegetarian Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen) probably led me along this path as my my gluten free spaghetti noodles bubbled on the stove.
The meals I had the good fortune to share at the monastery were simple and usually vegetarian. The thing I remember most is the loving way it always was laid out for us guests and the monks as we all congregated in the dining room. Seated at the long tables, enjoying maybe a simple vegetable soup or possibly an egg dish or some fish, it always felt so nourishing to the soul as well as to the body.
This monastery houses Catholic Benedictine monks, but thoughts expressed by a Buddhist monk came to mind as my parsley and garlic became more and more aromatic in the hot olive oil. I don’t recall the exact words, but Thich Nhat Hanh had a simple suggestion that has stuck in the back of my mind several years since I read it. He was talking about the spiritual value of seeking out sources of food that were grown or prepared mindfully with respect. He said it may be that it would cost more, but you could make up for the extra expense by eating less.
My choice to make spaghetti with green sauce is not related to the source of the food, but it is related to the idea of eating a little less–or, in this case, cooking with fewer ingredients for a less expensive meal. I am not on a weight loss program, but my budget is on a diet. I have already had to keep a close watch on my pennies, but now I have made the decision to tithe.
My idea of tithing thus far has been to look at my budget after taking care of my monthly expenses, and then include my church donation in the budgeting of what remains. I felt pretty good about doing that. When my daughter told me she and her husband were tithing ten percent of their income before expenses, I was shocked and even angry that they would hand over to their church such a big chunk of their hard-earned and much needed livelihood.
But I got to thinking about how important this church is to me. I got to thinking about how when I was raising my daughter and we ran into hard times, I always tried to take care of her needs ahead of mine. All Saints Episcopal feels like an adopted family that I want to grow with. There are a lot of needs to be taken care of.
So, I am going to give it a try. I am not including my income from my part-time retirement job because that is unpredictable and hopefully I can make it up with helping out in other ways.
Maybe I will make some Potato Leek soup tomorrow, perhaps some homemade gluten free cheese biscuits. This could be fun.