There's something therapeutic about food preparation when one isn't in a hurry or entertaining to impress. I know there are kitchens which are stressed, but mine isn't among them. The process of washing, peeling, chopping fruit and vegetables - genuine slow food - gives time to observe the colours, feel the textures and smell the aromas. Handling what comes naturally out of the earth puts one back in touch with what it means to be human in an age which frequently threatens to dehumanise us. Preparing food is something real.
I did something else real today, too. I spent most of this morning gardening (it's my day off). Gardening is another activity which has its own pace, slower than the pace at which we tend to live. Like cookery, it's a therapeutic occupation, and an opportunity to be genuinely and quietly observant. The smell of the damp earth, the sight of the spring flowers, the company of the nearby robin are all reminders of our own place in creation. Here, rather than the urban wilderness, is where we belong - at least for this life. Here is reality.
When I was a curate, our house was heated - if that isn't an exaggeration - by storage heaters. The gentle heat was ideal for proving dough, and I took to making bread regularly. It's a wonderfully tactile thing to do, quietly satisfying, and again it brings what is real into the present moment.
Jesus looked around and spoke of God through what he saw; through the real things of life. Through birds in the air and through farmers sowing seed. Through lilies in the field and through fish in the sea. Through the sights and incidents we all too frequently overlook as we press on with what seems to matter most - but usually doesn't. It was a sacramental approach to life, looking at and beyond the visible to see revealed a greater meaning, a disclosure of God and of God's grace.
Jesus was the outward and visible sign of God's presence - a true sacrament - and never more so than during his Passion. The costliness of God's suffering love was made real and credible through his human life. As we journey through these days towards Good Friday and eventually Easter, we too are called afresh to be an outward and visible sign of the presence of God - the Body of Christ, as St Paul calls it - so that others, being with us, may experience something real - and know that they too belong.