I've just finished assembling 36 pies which will be the alternative to a cake for the wedding of some very dear friends. I wasn't alone--we had a crew of 5 and a very efficient bride who organized a delivery schedule to 10 different ovens for tomorrow's big bake-off. Still, it was a lot of work and I'm tired, the happy kind of tired when you've given your all to something you really want to support, like an offering in a ceremony or something you thought was a sacrifice but turns out to be as much a gift received as one given.
Plus, it was a lot of fun.
This has got me thinking about food as an offering, which is a deeper and wider act than just giving a gift or bringing your share of potato salad to the neighborhood potluck. In a very real and tangible way, a food offering is responding to a request to keep someone or something alive, to enter into a relationship by giving something precious to sustain something precious.
In many Asian countries where Buddhism is still practiced, the monks are not allowed to purchase anything, even food, and they are not allowed to store or hoard food either. Often they can only eat once a day and that meal is before noon. So they are deeply dependent on the lay community to feed them. For the lay community, it is a meritorious act to bring food to the monks and place it in their large brass begging bowls. This giving and receiving of food is an offering, a ceremony, where all participants are nourished.
When you work hard in service of a person or an organization or even an idea, you are giving your energy, your lifeforce, an actual bit of yourself in support of that something or someone. You are saying "This is important. This is worth sustaining."
In the case of our 36 pie offering, our two friends going to do something not only for themselves but also for their community of friends and family. They are going to say 'I do" to a set brave and bold and noble vows. And in doing so they will bring us all together, in a conspiracy of sorts, to support them in this lifetime commitment, this celebration of complete trust, this leap of faith called marriage.
So when two dear, dear people are about to take one of the biggest leaps of their lives and they want pie, then by jove, we're giving them pie!
(Images: Dana Velden)