A review of Bread and Wine: “It’s like Shauna says…”

Shauna NiequistI’m not the biggest fan of cooking and baking. However, I am the biggest fan of Shauna Niequist, and anytime she publishes a new book, even if it’s on cooking and baking, my fangirl heart goes absolutely bananas. I buy it, and then proceed to make every important person in my life read it so that when I say, “It’s like Shauna says,” they already have an idea of where I’m going.  It just makes life easier.

Bread and Wine is Shauna’s latest, and it is about cooking and baking and even comes complete with recipes.  But, as with all of Shauna’s books, it’s not just about what it’s about.  Because while it’s about cooking and baking, it’s really about community and friendship and taking care of the people you love in the tactile way of feeding them.  Because it’s really about this:

“I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people feel fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day” (p. 41).

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It’s been a bad season for me and a lot of my friends.  I mean, God has been present and known, but it’s been a lot more valley than mountain in the last eight months. And sometimes the greatest comfort I’ve found has been on Tuesday nights at my BFF’s table, before we go to our Bible study, after I’ve played with Noah while she’s busied herself in her kitchen.

Jesse is not like me in that she loves cooking and baking.  I cook because I like to eat; she cooks because it’s therapy for her.  I know that sometimes she’s working something out in her inner world when her counters are covered with flour and her hands are covered with dough.  I know that sometimes, though, it’s not about her at all.  Sometimes she cooks because someone she loves is working something out in their inner world and she wants them to know they’re not alone in it.  I know because I’ve eaten meatloaf and green beans at her table more than once in the last eight months, and meatloaf and green beans are my food love language, and she knows that and she loves me.

So, this thing that Shauna says about being protected at the table makes sense to me because of my BFF, and because of meatloaf and green beans.

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The thing about Bread and Wine is that even though it’s mostly about food and cooking, it’s also undoubtedly Shauna.  It feels like you’ve plopped yourself right on the bench at her dining room table and you’ve had a chat with a friend about life and what God’s teaching you:

“Holiness abounds, should we choose to look for it. The whisper and drumbeat of God’s spirit are all around us, should we choose to listen for them. The building blocks of the most common meal – the bread and the wine – are reminders to us: ‘He’s here! God is here and He is good.’ Every time we eat, every time we gather, every time the table is filled: He’s here. He’s here, and he is good” (pp. 252-253).

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Last night, my Tuesday Night Bible Study girls and I had dinner.  We’re between books, so we met together and had a meal.  It wasn’t extravagant, and it was mostly pre-packaged, and we pretty much ate with our fingers.  But, we prayed together, and we laughed, and we shared stories.

And it mattered.

Because it’s like Shauna says, sitting with our friends at the table reminds us in a world that often seems unkind and mean and bad that God is here, in the midst of all that is unkind and mean and bad.

He is here. And He is good.

Bread & Wine

*Disclosure: This review was written from a complimentary copy of Bread and Wine, but that had no bearing on this review.  I just flat loved this book.  It’s now available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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