An Angelic Table: The Nourishing Tradition of Subtlety

Recommended to watch this video (here) first before reading post

"Throughout the Bible we find it repeatedly implied that each individual soul has its tutelary angel. Thus Abraham, when sending his steward to seek a wife for Isaac, says: "He will send His angel before thee" (Genesis 24:7). The words of the ninetieth Psalm which the devil quoted to our Lord (Matthew 4:6) are well known, and Judith accounts for her heroic deed by saying: "As the Lord liveth, His angel hath been my keeper" (xiii, 20). These passages and many like them (Genesis 16:6-32; Hosea 12:4; 1 Kings 19:5; Acts 12:7; Psalm 33:8), though they will not of themselves demonstrate the doctrine that every individual has his appointed guardian angel, receive their complement in our Saviour's words: "See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of My Father Who is in Heaven" (Matthew 18:10), words which illustrate the remark of St. Augustine: "What lies hidden in the Old Testament, is made manifest in the New". Indeed, the book of Tobias seems intended to teach this truth more than any other, and St. Jerome in his commentary on the above words of our Lord says: "The dignity of a soul is so great, that each has a guardian angel from its birth."
New Advent

"a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
and high above the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness the body
oh the heaviness settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing...

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don`t leave me alone"
-From Jane Siberry's
Calling All Angels

I made a rather sobering discovery this weekend...sugar is not my friend. Now i'm sure youre wondering what the bleep that has to do with the angelic (which i'm focusing on because angels are after all a part of the phrase angels in the home), but if youll bear with me a bit...

Something happened a few weeks ago. My eating habits were at an all time low. I had been depressed for so long about the whole ever-moving thing, and about finances with all our plans for the summer's earnings up in smoke when my partner broke his arm mid season and off the jobsite to boot, and my partner being away up north for so long and missing him... so depressed that i had sunk into a kind of depression without realizing it. It affected my eating, big time, as i didnt have the heart to really cook. I was living on cheese and bread and fruit and chocolate and ice cream and salad as my staples pretty much, and i felt just horrible. Then
came that day when i was eating a subway sandwich and one of my meatballs had a piece of the meat grinder that had broken off into it, it looked like a nail, like a Cross sort of nail. I still have it, felt this need to save it. And that night something happened. I realized, finally, the longings of what my body truly wanted, true nourishment. I woke up the next morning knowing i had to get Nourishing Traditions (a cookbook that had been popping into my head all that previous week) now that very day. And until this weekend, i never looked back. No chocolate bars, no ice cream...i just didnt want them, didnt even miss them really, which took me very by surprise. And i was cooking more from scratch the things i was really craving... soups, rices, lots of rich varied salads and herby and marinated stuff,lots of beans, etc. Bit by bit, i felt so much better in various little subtle ways. Not that the injury/chronic pain magically disapperaed or anything, but still, some other stuff really was affected. I even cut way back on my stomach medication without realizing it till later.

Now, enter this weekend. I mentioned in the last post how my Mom sent me an angel in the mail and what a co-in-see-dance-al blessing that felt like. What i didnt mention was that she also sent me chocolate as a surprise. The good stuff, and lots of it, all pretty and shiny and irresistable there in the package. She totally meant well, it was supposed to be a treat. Even as i ate the first few pieces i could feel my body getting a bit weird, some of us are just not cut out for much intense sugar. Soon my sugar addiction woke up pretty quickly again and this weekend everything slid back to the old habits of a few weeks ago right alongside. Lots of various physical symptoms came back, stuff i hadnt even realized had been getting better some the past few weeks (watery eyes, cough, dizziness, stomach acid). And it was more than that, it was the feeling inside, the shakiness and spaciness, coming back, that feeling that i hadnt realized i'd been losing before.

And through this its just really been hitting me just how guided we are with help finding balance, and in the strangest ways too, ways that seem like so little but mean so much. Just a little thing happened on Saturday night that stands out...i felt like eggs for dinner. When i went into the kitchen to mix them up there was this sudden desire to mix them in a bowl. The thing is, thats a no-no with the injury, as often it can flare it up if i'm not careful (usually need to "mix" them gently in a sealed baggie). But the longing was so strong to mix them in a bowl, so i did. And i know the longing was not only personal but prompted, becuase of the result. First i put in the little leaves off fresh thyme and dill (the herbs were sneaking back), then the milk , then the (still unmixed) eggs. And then something happened. Nothing miraculous in the world of science but it was miraclous for me. The eggs, their pale liquid and their sunny little yolks, were clear and vibrant little sunrises in the middle. The milk had formed a soft white snowy ring/circle around the eggs, a white snowy circle speckled with the greenness of the little herb leaves. And it was all inside a pretty pale pink bowl. I cant quite describe why this moved me so much, but it did. Maybe it was the sheer beauty , i just had to stop and drink it all in. It reminded me of yuletide, of winter, of the seasons. I felt myself surrounded by the healing circle of the seasons and He who holds them, just like the bowl surrounded the milk and the milk surrounded the eggs.

And it was only after this happened that i was able to start to write again a bit. And even then the push pull wasnt over, i've been battling the ol' "sugar monster" for a few days now really as i've been packing and readying for the move. I realize the "return to sugar" thing sounds small, but for me its not, it seems to be a part of a package for me...a package of feeling scattered and jittery, kind of dizzy and weird, and that effectt pretty much, well....everything..

I think whats been hapening is i've needed to feel the contrast. The sugar jitters, vs "the egg moment" (lol). Seriously though, i think the latter happened not only to point to needing better balance in the body but also a need for that sort of slowing down for such tangibility of feeling, especially when talking about something most see as only ethereal....angels. And i've wanted to look at this because i believe there is a reason one of the archetypes of femininity is (at least in one way to phrase it) about being an angel in the home.

So...angels. I definitely grew up with an exposure there. My mother taught me about my guardian angel especially, as part of our Catholic faith. She put a lovely picture of the image to the left, put it right above my bed growing up, nestled next to a Cross. And she led me in prayer to my guardian angel before i went to sleep. For she believed, and so do i, that we are each given a special guardian angel to accompany us through life (see
here), an extra-tangible and personal way for God to help guide us. Some of you may be familiar with this prayer (see here; though growing up my mom and i would add the traditional "a little child like me" as the last line).

There was a certain feeling there, in the prayers and images of the sorts of angels i was surrounded with growing up, a feeling of sureness and and pureness that was not flippant detachment but rather a very real softness and kindness. And so this was how i saw the angelic.

Then i grew up like we all do, went away to college, became progressively more involved in things "new age". And boy has the new age stolen and twisted the angelic, taken often more just the pitfall form of it really and pushed it forward. In the new age movement the angelic means to many: shinyness and bubblyness and detachment. The biggest mantra there seems to be "Angels can fly becuase they take themselves (and everything else too it seems) lightly". Frankly if not for the deeper view of angels learned in my childhood before this stuff, well i might have dismissed the angelic too. Folks today too often dismiss the angelic deep down just like they (even more intensely) dismiss the angel in the home. In fact they view both in the same way from the pitfall side (lots of things have a pitfall side but also a wonderful healing side), really seeing just the pitfall side of both: seeing angels proper and angels in the home as too detached from earthly practical tangible things to be of any "use", or as too fluffy foo foo/empty/cutesy to have any depth of meaning. Both angels proper and angels in the home get so horrible twisted and misunderstood.

So just going to unravel a bit here. As with the earlier post on this stuff, it may not be clear yet, its still just being slowly understood/unraveled...

So, again...angels. And sugar. Funny sounding i know. But things dont happen randomly, there is a reason the whole food-area (and also using oil candles, but more in a later post) was strongly highlighted as i was exploring this angel in the home stuff more, its just taken awhile to notice the connection. The whole Nourishing Traditions thing had kept popping in my head the very same week i was reacting to the angel in the home bashing on the sites mentioned previously. And when the upset subsided a bit and a longing was woken up to understand the angel in the home more deeply, that was when i was actually finding myself practicing the Nourishing Traditions way of eating. This wasnt a random way of eating that presented itself, it is, i am realizing, deeply connected with both the angelic and with angels in the home.

What Nourishing Traditions is about (in my view anyway) is recovering the centrality of the subtle. Subtlely is critical in life...and dangerously missing more and more. Picture the typical modern way of eating for example, especially in the US. Traditional ways of eating intuitively understood certain subtle and critical things...for example food should be more in its whole form rather than typically split apart and megaprocessed. It should be cooked slowly under gentle heat and with awareness and care, and also made digestible through presoaking certain things and by also by adding fermented condiments to one's meal (think of the traditional marinated herbs and tomato (or fennel etc) as part of the meal in traditional Italian cooking, or the fermented milk of whole and fresh minted yogurt as a real part of many traditional Greek dishes, etc). These are a few of the things pointed out in Nourishing Traditions, and all this book did really was look back at ancient cultures which were healthy ones and then compare it to now, not afriad to admit what we have lost...and that loss is what i would call the subtlety of life.

Becuase all these subtle aspects of cooking just listed from the book, things you dont "see" so much as the center of your plate when it arrives, well these things were/are still truly important....and they are just the sort of things that were discounted in modern cooking bit by bit, and it was boiled down instead to: "well okay now, we need certain nutrients, and certain ratio of carbs to protein, etc etc". More and more of the subtle stuff flew out the window bit by bit, was seen as unimportant or just an optional "decorative sidenote" (which can't be that important of course... reminds me of LAF's bashing the angel in the home as too "merely decorative" in some of its comments there). With the food side, its gotten so bad now that some folks think a colorless processed to death "protein bar" is good for us, something which misses about every subtle thing we need for true nourishment.

And then there is table sugar, so pervasive we dont even notice the impact. There is perfectly fine natural sugar of course, but because the powers that be have put the megarefined stuff instead into just about everything, well thats what most of us use. We reach for this stuff stripped of all its natural subtely, and that stripping has impact. The impact is it speeds us up, gives us a speedy rush, then a crash, and then a craving for more speedy rushing, again and again and again. Its makes us spacey and not so aware of things, and its VERY easy to miss the subtle things of life when one is heavily sped up and crashed down on a bunch of sugar. Refined sugar to me has become symbolic. I've learned that in my body, i can handle a little fine when its there with other things (the sugar in cornbread or whipped cream for example). But when it predomintes (like in a hershey's bar) my body just loses it if i go too far there. And so it is on the symbolic side too. A life that has a bit of the "sugar rush" feeling of busyness and rushes, well i can handle that fine... but not a life where that predominates at all.

So now, enter the angelic. Despite the new agey or commercial view of angels telling us otherwise, angels are the very opposite really of that "sugarness". They do not rush and crash, they are....present. Really seeing what is happening. Fast enough to respond to dangers but otherwise slow enough to have a certain presence that comes from such awareness and slowness, a presence that allows them to touch you with their heart in their hands. Subtle, subtle, subtle. This was what i saw in the version of angels i grew up with, the female ones anyway...not shiny glitsy strength and might but soft kindness, a softly glowing light, inside and out, that you could feel. And that is exactly what i see, in its own way, in the angel in the home....not the blatent stuff we are pounded with as what is important, but the more subtle...and just as important.

Guess this stuff takes some time and layers to unravel, well at least for me it does.

Blessed Monday, and hope all are well : )

(Images from
here and here)

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