Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

In the midst of a somewhat chaotic week, I watched Babette's Feast for the first time.  I've heard about it for years and when I saw it on the library shelves at the same time my husband would be out of town... it was time for a viewing. 

I was unimpressed with the first half an hour or so as the story was being woven... that early background which was necessary to understand the latter...  but as the story unwound I was blessed beyond words.  When the movie ended, I felt I'd been touched by angels and my heart understood Truths previously unknown.  That is why God gave us... Art.

I knew the story was about a French woman who came to live with two unmarried sisters whose father had founded a very conservative (and legalistic, I may add) religious community.  The woman eventually comes into money and the ladies... now much older... assume she will return to France.  Instead, she asks to make them a banquet and you find later that she has used all of the money she had won to purchase the fabulous food, china, crystal, etc. for the feast.

I will not share all that is in Isak Dinesen's short story and film but it showed me the importance of Beauty and Creating and Giving of our giftedness to others.  Just the thoughts I have been pondering these past weeks.  Perhaps that is why the story took my breath away and I found myself thinking of it all week.

Just as with this story... where religious convictions meet true Beauty and Art... we see God in all that surrounds us when we are searching for Him.  Otherwise, I fear we allow life to pass by with blinders on in which we see only our troubles... and the Word tells us there will be tribulation on the way to Glory.

The Book also reminds us, "The heavens declare the glory of God!" and that the "rocks will cry out" with praise toward Him if he who is created in the image of the Creator fails to give Him praise.  We go about our life as Christians making every attempt not to fall into the temptation of the big sins but perhaps just as much pain is caused the Savior when we walk through life never looking around and saying... thank you.

That was the main message I took from this film this week.. albeit there are layers upon layers of messages about Christianity and Beauty within the story... that when we become so fearful not to stir up God's wrath upon us... we often overlook the love he is pouring out in the food and the flowers and the flora and the fauna and the sunsets and sunrises and kitties and puppies and horses and... all that He created.

I cannot help but talk to Him when hoeing the garden.  First of all (being the sinful human nature of the flesh), I do tend to complain about weeds and having to provide food by the "sweat of the brow".  But once I get over grumbling (blame it on a 100 degree heat index)... I can look around me at the Beauty of new growth.  That which was just one bean planted in dirt is now a beautiful tall green plant, soon to grow baby green beans and then large green beans and then to be sauteed with some onions and perhaps baby potatoes for a feast... the alchemy of the kitchen.

The one cucumber plant is now vining and just starting to grow onto its' provided structure.  The other veggies have seemed to triple in size over night from the heat and rain while the herb garden has already been cut back and once again is lush and flourishing and absolutely stunning in its' feast for the eyes, mouth, and most definitely... nose.

He could have given us all manna as He provided for the Children of Israel in the wilderness.  It was obviously quite nutritious and quick to eat.  But instead He allowed us to take part in creation each season as we plant and watch it all grown and harvest and feast... and how often do we give Him thanks.

Perhaps it is because so many live away from direct contact with the land and we have come to assume our food comes from Kroger instead of the farm... planted by man and grown in the soil of His creation.... or is it just another sign of the times as mankind zips from birth to death without giving any thought that all of this just may be the result of Someone to Whom we can give thanks.

I believe we are made in His image... made to create... made for Beauty... that within our soul is a need for all that is lovely.  As I watched the film and noticed how Babette began to seek out those items which would bring flavor to the blandness of the food... onions purchased, herbs found in the wild and drying in the small kitchen, just the way she would season and taste and then smile.

I watched the former chef at work in the most humble surroundings and then saw the result as those around her would taste the soup and smile... unaware they were tasting the works of a culinary artist.

Then the feast itself with the scenes of her joy in the preparation of the best of food and the look in the eyes of the participants as they entered the humble dining room and saw the magic (Narnia magic, of course) that was to come... starting with the flickering candlelight in silver, the most beautiful china and crystal, all set "just right" for each to enjoy the coming feast.

Then to watch as each course brought about a change in the people, as true Beauty and the work of an artist began to work their magic ... the affects of the feast upon the human-ness of those who were at the table.  It seemed that it was a religious experience to those who never allowed themselves to experience true Beauty in their fear of desiring earth instead of Heaven... to see Heaven come down and Grace fill the room and Joy blossom in the hearts and friendships renewed and love rekindled.

It is all there in the Book if we are truly reading, the Creator telling us of everything He has provided on this planet and of His joy in all that is Beautiful and His Plan to redeem mankind and restore perfection.  He promised a land full full of milk and honey and grapes to those who complained and muttered.  He promises a Feast to those who will overcome.

I wonder what will come next in my ponderings on Beauty and Creativity and God.  He seems to be leading me into paths where they are being used by the Teacher to bring life to a heavy soul.  You can rest assure as I learn and ponder... I will share.  :)


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

What a wonderful Sunday Afternoon Tea talk, Brenda. It touches my heart. We were given eyes to see with...And we are surely meant to say "thank you" when we see the wonders our Creator has given us.

You brought to mind Psalm 19 which was paraphrased in a favorite hymn of mine that I have on a David Haas CD:

"The stars declare his glory;
the vault of heaven springs,
mute witness of the Master's hand
in all created things,
and through the silences of space
their soundless music sings.

The dawn returns in splendor,
the heavens burn and blaze,
the rising sun renews the race
that measures all our days,
and writes in fire across the skies
God's majesty and praise.

So shine the Lord's commandments
to make the simple wise;
more sweet than honey to the taste,
more rich than any prize,
a law of love within our hearts,
a light before our eyes.

So order too this life of mine,
direct it all my days;
the meditations of my heart
be innocence and praise,
my rock, and my redeeming Lord,
in all my words and ways.

Words:Psalm 19;
paraphrase by Timothy Dudley-Smith"

Ann said...

What a beautiful post ... thank you so much. Blessings, Ann

Vee said...

Another movie to look for...I don't think this will be an easy task. It sounds fascinating. Oh to think of your garden growing makes me smile. (My poor little plants are stunted...three days of heat has done little to help and now plunged back into the cold. Not pretty. We're all crouched about the heater wearing flannel again.)

Anonymous said...

This is one of my husband's favorite movies! While we are to deepen the pantry and all that, on a certain level we are to live extravagantly and freely, with open hands and hearts.

I think your blog speaks to that.

Thank you,

Angela in TX

Monica said...

Thank you for this. It blessed my heat!

Peggy Lorenz said...

"Used by the teacher to bring life to a heavy soul"...yes! Thank you for your are truly planting seeds in so many of us.

matty said...

Lovely post! Even though all our labor seems to keep us looking down, so to speak, when we pause and look up, we see the joy and vastness of what we are given!

Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life said...

How WONDERFUL that you got to see the movie Babette's Feast.

When my hubby and I first found it a few years ago, we were smitten, and every so often we pull out our copy to watch it and be blessed all over again by its lovely message.

Enjoyed your posting...........

Karen Andreola said...

It's been more than a decade since I've watched Babette's Feast yet it left a lasting impression.

On the subject of flavors, I was newly married and eating supper prepared by a homemaker (much more experienced than I) marveling over the pungent flavor of her sauce. She put fresh thyme in the dish - and did not use it sparingly - a first for me. I've been inclined toward thyme ever since.

I can understand the character's fear of loving earth too much. I think a truer tendency is that Christians love all that is good too little. (I include myself.)

Thank you for your food (flavor) for thought in your post this morning.

Karen A.

Deborah said...

This post is so beautiful and insightful, inspiring and encouraging me this morning. I have been very busy this past weekend buying items from yard sales and an auction sale and making beautiful, peaceful places in my home. A form of creativity, definitely. Today I'm off work and hoping to enjoy some of those spots I've created. I'd also like to share on my blog. Life is rich with God's blessings and handiwork. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in your beautiful blog.

Anonymous said...

When it came time for me to prepare and produce a nice party for my husband and son, who were graduating from college together (a second degree for hubby) a friend told me that if you do not have a matching set of serving dishes, to just get ones that are clear glass, yet none looking alike but because all are clear glass will look elegant. We did not have much money in those days, so I went thrifting and yard saling over the months prior and sure was one gorgeous evening (and no one seemed to know how CHEAP it was). The food was the best I and some friends could prepare and some said it was the best party they ever attended. But these days it takes so much energy so such does not happen very often. Elegant does not have to be expensive however!

The movie sounds interesting... will have to watch for it. Thanks for the good blog entry!

Blessings, Elizabeth in NC

Mrs.Rabe said...

I have not seen this movie but am going to check out netflix for it! If it is on instant play, I will be watching it tonight!

I love to hear what the Lord is teaching you...He is leading you down good paths...toward loveliness and beauty...

So important at all times, but especially during times of hardship and challenge...