“When a caterpillar enters its chrysalis, it dissolves itself, quite literally, into liquid. In this state, what was a caterpillar and will be a butterfly is neither one nor the other, it’s a sort of living soup. Within this living soup are the imaginal cells that will catalyze its transformation into winged maturity. May the best among us, the most visionary, the most inclusive, be the imaginal cells – for now we are in the soup. The outcome of disasters is not foreordained. It’s a conflict, one that takes place while things that were frozen, solid and locked up have become open and fluid – full of both the best and worst possibilities.”
“Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot, 9 days old.”
During my vacation time this summer I fell into a binge-watching habit with my husband each night at dinnertime. Our tastes are often widely disparate, so the first task was to locate something we both found palatable. Luckily, we stumbled on a delicious choice right off the bat: The Great British Baking Show. My husband is a great cook, and I love to eat, so we were both happy.
The show’s premise is familiar. Starting with a host of contestants, each week the judges winnow the bakers down one by one until the final week, when the “star baker” is awarded for the year. Along the way there are challenges both internal and external, issues both emotional and practical to test the bakers’ skills.
It is heart-warming to see someone blossom along the way, and heart-rending to say goodbye to someone who no longer measures up to the rest of the group. At the beginning, all souls are filled with the same possibility. All of them embrace the wonder of what they can create. As Rebecca Solnit notes, the “soup” of possibility is open and fluid, subject to imagination.
I noticed a similarity between baking and worship. Each week that we gather we receive the same ingredients. It is up to each of us to prepare the offerings in our own way. For some, it may become a well-balanced and healthy meal. For others, it could simmer into a bland and lumpy porridge.
There is another distinction with worship, in that the beloved community makes this meal together. We each get to taste the results of our common efforts. No one is forcibly eliminated for bad luck or lack of skill. Some may choose to leave our banquet, to seek out more exotic or predictable fare. Others may be attracted to the enticing aromas of our Free Faith.
On the baking show, contestants are judged by both appearance and taste. Sometimes the creation looks beautiful but is too salty. Or it looks a mess, but it melts in the mouth like butter. In our worship services, we want our time together to be both creatively stimulating and spiritually nutritious. The challenge comes because we know we can’t please everybody all the time.
And so we move into another new church year filled with possibilities. We’re hungry to try new recipes. We’re excited to broaden our palates. And hopefully, we’re prepared to welcome new visitors, make new friends and engage our imaginations as we share the “living soup” of DUUF.