On a cold wet windy night, I was walking through east London looking for a place to eat. In the quietness which comes as one walks alone, I longed for more than food. I wanted comfort. I longed to belong, food and conversation where I could just be.
A sign captured everything I was looking for. Although Persian influences move across several food cultures, there is something unique about Persian dishes. For me, Persian dishes are never just about the food. Each bite comes with memories filled with friends, shared meals and conversations, fellowship, and unconditional belonging.
Unfortunately, my restaurant choice was just closing. I carried on, thinking about possible food alternatives. Slowly choosing a substitute restaurant morphed into a Life whispered lesson.
When I cannot find the real thing, I naturally turn to something I think can substitute. I have come to appreciate that great care must be taken! Usually, my initial choice for substitution will fail. Knowing the real thing by deconstructing is a start, but care must be taken.
Substitutes often come with unintended consequences. Used in a recipe, new flavours emerge when a substitute is combined with other ingredients or goes through the heat of being cooked. Some substitutes start out safe only to end up being dangerous because of the way I used them.
When I cook using a substitute, I can throw out the result. If I choose an alternative restaurant, I can change my mind. As the substitute’s context gets closer to my heart, the consequence of my choice grows. At the core, an old warning stands out. “Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men – all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it – emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.” (Romans 1.27)
Life is never a mandatory recipe. You and I are artists with Divine freedom of choice. As I care, try, and learn, I discover the beauty of Divine manifestations along with what to keep and what to avoid.