If I’m being honest here, I find St. Paul a little frustrating. His letters are so fiery and wonderful, his encouragement and faith so inspiring – and then I remember how his words have been used to keep women down for so long and still today in many Christian communities. I respect his travels, his spreading the Gospel, his founding so many faith communities – and then I remember that Thecla traveled with him and got none of her words saved and none of her work acknowledged. i take comfort in the fact that he likely frustrated Peter and the early church in Jerusalem as well, with his insistence that Jesus told him to do such and such when he never met Jesus in the flesh, as it were – and then I remember that I too think this Gospel was for Jew and Gentile alike, that we have a relationship with Jesus although we are of the flesh and he of the spirit. Gah! Frustrating man.
But to my son, he’s sort of a swashbuckling hero. My son is in first grade, and he went to an evening Bible School program last year that focused on Paul and the Early Church. “Mom! Mom!” he said when he got back from the first class “Paul started as one thing…and became something else completely different! He was mean, and then he was nice! He was blind, and then he could see!”
Watching his wonder at this story, and his continued excitement to relay Paul’s latest shenanigans to me when he came back from each class – well, it softened some of my St. Paul Frustration. “Women should remain silent in the churches” the man said, but he also worked with women as deacons, as teachers, as co-Eucharistic ministers, as traveling companions. I’ve forgiven less of my own family members and older friends of past generations. “You shouldn’t go to a woman doctor” a dear (female!) friend of mine told me when I was pregnant with my now-first grader. “You just need a male doctor if you want the best care.” I laughed, and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek…and went to my female gynecologist.
I realized I love how Paul thinks one should live ones day to day oriented to God, to the Spirit. i think so too – thus, Eating Liturgically. One night I realized I forgive Paul his silly, silly, statements on women in the church. I was one thing (a Paul-scoffer) and now I am another (I kiss his cheek and laugh and remain a Christian Feminist).
We struggled, my son and I, to come up with a feast-food to symbolize this day when Paul saw Jesus in a flash of light and became something different. I researched food you could change from dark to light with alchemy, with chemistry, with some hocus pocus. We pondered.
And then we googled. I can’t remember where we found it (and when I do I shall credit!) but someone blogged that she and her kids make horseshoe cookies (because some tellings of the story of Saul becoming Paul involve him falling off his horse with the flash of light) and black and white cookies to show the dark and the light in this man. “I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE COOKIES!” said my son. (He speaks all in exclamation points.)
Thus our tradition was born.