The Son of Man came eating and drinking”. Luke 7:34
There’s something profound and holy about tea and cake.
About the work of baking when you know someone is coming over, or when you have someone to visit. About the adding and measuring and stirring and whisking. Baking teaches me patience and mindfulness – rush it and it’ll likely go wrong. Instead I slow down and feel the butter and flour between my fingertips, watch as the ingredients are gently incorporated into each other as I stir, crouch before the glowing oven door and watch as those scones rise higher in the heat.
I’ve always loved baking, ever since my mum first handed me the wooden spoon. My earliest memory of my Nan is her teaching me to measure out flour on her old scale, weight by weight until it balanced. (It was the only thing of hers I have kept to remember her buy).
In the last few years, baking has become a spiritual practise. The stained and crumb-littered floor of my kitchen has become holy ground. When I am stressed, when my world feels off kilter, when I am sad or scared – I gather up my cookbooks and head for the counter.
There I find peace. My heart rate slows and my rushed thoughts ease as I scan the recipe, collect the ingredients, begin this holy work.
In the productive stillness of baking, I have time to hear Spirit speaking. I hear the words she needed to whisper to me all along but which I was too busy rushing around to heed. I hear her speak of family and friends and I mix prayers in with the chocolate chips as I stir.
I hear the reminders of what my heart is truly hungry for – this sense that it’s all connected, all bursting with meaning. Here in my kitchen I discover a thin place, cracks of glory seeping through and lighting up the dirty spoons, the licked-clean bowls, the dusty apron.
“Come along inside. We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.”
– The Wind in the Willows
Later we eat the cake of course. It’s why I love to bake, so I can give it away, watch other people enjoy each mouthful. And the best way is to eat it slowly, boil the kettle for the tea and warm the pot as you wait. Pull out Granny’s old teacups, the pretty ones with the yellow flowers that Grandpa gave you on impulse one year when you were a poor student begging some old mugs off him for your flat.
I used to say, “why wait for a special occasion?” Now I start to see every occasion as special.
And talk and laugh and perhaps pray as we eat. Hear the stories that are making hearts lighter or heavier. Scooch closer on the couch when the hard words are spoken allowed. Fall back against the pillows when you laugh so hard your sides hurt. Talk of hopes and plans and how excited you are to soon see the new hunger games film. And in the midst of it all, the tea and cake remain (perhaps less than earlier), the generous hosts to our conversation.
There’s something profound and holy about tea and cake. I feel it each time I bake, each time I pour, each time I share. It tells me that it’s all connected, all bursting with meaning.