One good Seder…

Before I invite you into the inner sanctum of our first-ever annual Seder event, I have to tell you a secret: This isn’t Erik blogging. I am Erik’s girlfriend, yeah that’s right, the cool one who bought the John Legend tickets, and he’s asked me to be his “guest bloggist” and tell you about our Seder dinner last night.

(If you don’t know what a Seder is, it’s a traditional Jewish Passover meal with a lot of symbolic elements, that takes place on Maundy Thursday. Google it or check out the links.)

There are seven kinds of food one eats at a Seder. I was in charge of the bitter herbs, aka a large clump of parsley and horseradish. Erik was in charge of the Seder guide and his Bible, of course. He had already been to several Seders so we were relying heavily on him.

Off we went to our Seder digs, our friend Heather’s house, where she and our other friend, Jeannie (both my co-editors at Outreach magazine) had just pulled out of the oven a mustard-topped rack of lamb. Dang! Lamb is kind of the Rolls Royce of meat to me, because I never get to eat it, so I was excited, but Erik was extra excited because this was an official exception to his not eating meat for Lent (he asked God for permission.) His taste buds were doing a celebratory dance! We also had Jewish red wine that was sweet and weirdly creamy, and rice, and the Matzoh bread (the bread of affliction, or the flat bread that didn’t have time to rise when the Jews were running away from Egypt). We also had saltwater for dipping…symbolic of the tears the Israelites shed in slavery, and this yummy apple stuff that represented the mortar the Israelites used to build the temple? (I’m not really sure about that last part.)

We sat around Heather’s coffee table and reclined on pillows, because this is the posture of free people. Heather had a sweet setup of candles and a Seder-esque table cloth that really put us in the mood--for Seder, you sickos!

Erik is looking at me like I am crazy right now.

Erik read us the Seder guide, which had Scripture for each type of food we ate, and prayers that we read. It was quite interesting to actually taste the bitterness of the parsley dipped in saltwater, and to have the horseradish burn our throats. It made me feel something with my body that I was focusing on with my mind…which isn’t often a part of my spiritual experience. I’m pretty unfamiliar with tradition or really any form of symbolism. The only tradition I have ever participated in is communion, and honestly, I have always felt pretty disconnected from that. This Seder made me feel like I am missing a lot. Like, the matzoh was actually the same bread that the Israelites ate forever ago. It was really cool to join in a ceremonial remembrance and find a thread of commonality with God’s ancient people.

I will finish by saying that the lamb (cooked medium rare) was nothing short of spectacular. Erik did a great job officiating and made it all really come alive. I think Seder is my favorite new (old) tradition. The act of eating itself is a spiritual metaphor we often overlook. Many common objects have a profound meaning, and we could have a surprisingly rich experience if we would just dig into the past and pay attention to what they represent.