Peanut-butter & jelly

February 25, 2017 (Nairobi):

A long time ago, people used to eat peanut-butter sandwiches, which, albeit dry, fed them well enough. Then a man was born who started putting jelly on the sandwich. Jelly was really good, and others were attracted to his new sandwiches, but some others killed him because he threatened the stranglehold of power they had over the peanut-butter sandwich industry. Since the man was believed to have risen from the dead, his followers started to view and treat the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches as divine food: ambrosia. They ate it and ate it and took the new kind of sandwich to all corners of the earth, and people were fed by it.

Two thousand years later, I was born into a PB-n-J family and community. They taught me to eat PB-n-Js and to love them. I relished the taste, delighted in the protein-rich stickiness of the nut-butter, the fruity vitamins of the jelly, and the grassy carbohydrates in the bread. Because of how well I was fed by the sandwich, and because of how good I was at making it and eating it, I decided my calling in life was to take the sandwich ingredients to the sandwich-less tribes of the earth, make sandwiches for them, and feed them.

So I decided to first go to PB-n-J school to learn all I could learn about my beloved source of nutrition. Because I believed PB-n-J sandwiches were in fact ambrosia, I assumed that they were pure and perfect in every way. I assumed every ingredient, down to the chemicals, were wholly useful to my body, with none leftover as waste. I believed the sandwich and my body were perfectly suited for each other.

At the school, the professors were world experts on all aspect of the PB-n-J sandwich. Under their guidance, we studied this sandwich in minute detail, down to the cells, molecules, and even atoms. When we did so, I observed that the PB-n-J was not ambrosia like I thought but was very much just regular food, like any other food. At this I felt deceived and betrayed. Even though PB-n-Js are delicious and nutritious, I became disgusted by them. I could no longer stomach the thought that I had confused the divine life infused in the sandwich with the sandwich itself. I stared at my plate for a while, then pushed it aside, nauseated.

After sitting there a long time, I grew hungry and started ravenously downing any food in sight. But no matter how much I ate, nothing satisfied me. It was all mere food, not ambrosia. Then after some time, I realized the human-food/divine-food dichotomy was false. All food is ambrosia if you have faith in that which makes food food, that which makes food for the body and the body for food. All food – not just PB-n-J sandwiches – can be a place of meeting with the divine, for the divine is the very cause and condition of the nutritiousness and deliciousness of any food. I had always confused foodhood with the PB-n-J, when in fact, foodhood is the life-giving property of all foods.

As I looked, I saw an endless smorgasbord of food served up on a high table….

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