Friday, January 23, 2009

Gather up the fragments, that none should be lost...

Sarah Edwards,the wife of the philosopher and theologian Jonathan Edwards, used to say this a lot. She's rather a hero of mine, you know. (She really ought to have a Facebook fan group. I might create one for her).

Anyway, I have come across references to this in two different places recently, in addition, of course, to Jesus' original statement. I have been reading a biography of the Edwards' entitled Marriage to a Difficult Man. (I wouldn't recommend it, there are far better ones out there.) I also have been doing a lot of reading in More-with-Less, a Mennonite cookbook. They reference this phrase in every chapter, with a special section on how to "gather up the fragments."

Jesus fed thousands, miraculously multiplying the loaves. There was great abundance, bread heels all over the place, apparently. But in the face of this miraculous abundance of His own creation, Jesus instructed His disciples to gather up the fragments, that none should be lost. I wonder if the disciples wondered why they needed to do that - why not just leave it for the birds? There's so much! And, it seems, plenty where that came from.

It can be a temptation to be wasteful when times are good; tempting to throw away the scraps because there is another chicken in the fridge. But in Jesus we have our example; it doesn't do to be wasteful. It has come to my attention that I have been a very frugal shopper, but a rather wasteful cook. At the end of the day, I want to get my work done, so just scrape the plates in the trash. No one will eat the two spoonfuls of leftover veggies. Toss them! Or, save them in a tupperware container, only to toss them later. Ehh...MUCH later. Ew.

Of course, now for most of us times are not so good. It is a good time to reevaluate ourselves. I am catching myself from throwing away things in the kitchen that I can use. The bones can be broth. The leftover veggies can be tossed in the soup. My toddler's untouched dinner can be the baby's reheated lunch. The bread scraps will be bread crumbs, or toss with some oil and garlic, bake, and they are croutons. Today I made English muffins from scratch. It's not that hard.

My groceries are going further. And we've been eating hot homemade soups with hot homemade bread. Everytime I take a bite of bread hot out of the oven, I am grateful to God who has reserved special delights for us even in times of trouble. And, I am confident that in being faithful with the fragments, we are bringing glory to our Lord, who sees all.


NW said...

Beautiful. But I thought to myself, "Oh NO!" when I read that there are better biographies available of Sarah Edwards, as I look to my right, seeing my brand new copy of "Married to a Difficult Man" that just arrived last week. What others do you recommend?!

Desiree Hausam said...

Oh!! It's worth reading; but Dodds is SO biased and pretty unsympathetic. She puts a modern feminist spin on things and injects a lot of her own thinking. Honestly the book drove me nuts; I just finished it. It has a lot of interesting stuff but you have to sift through a lot of inaccuracies (the Pipers' notes help with this) and things that Dodds thought people might have thought.

I'm not aware of other biographies that are directly of Sarah, but Mark has highly recommended Marsden's biography of Jonathan; you get a lot about Sarah in there too, I think. I haven't read it yet, though I did read one chapter to get a fuller understanding of Sarah's experience that Dodds covers in chapter 8. You get a very, very different picture of that event depending on who you read, and I thought Dodds' handling of it was awful. I wish I could understand why so many people like that book so much; Mark and I give it two thumbs down. :(