OF Flour and Oil

I

I’m wondering, while sitting on my couch as the clock flips to 12:00am and my age changes to 25, what are the top 25 lessons I’ve learned in a quarter century of living. I start to make a list but struggle. Surely I’ve learned enough lessons to construct a lengthy list, but knowing me, I wanted the giant profound ones. The mountain-moving ones. So I sat with a list of six when I finally gave up and looked at the birthday wishes appearing on my screen. Then the following day, I thought of my list and realized there is one teaching that may be the most important.

I’m talking about redemption.

Advertisement

As I reflected on redemption, something else occurred to me. It’s the subject of heated debates between families, between family members, between tribes, and between nations. Mine is better than yours. Recipes have been perfected and maintained through bloodlines. Secrets heavily guarded. Flavors of sweetness, roasted nut, toast, oil, crispness, or fluffiness. All-purpose flour or Blue Bird Flour?

I’m talking about Fry Bread.

Wikipedia defines frybread as “a flat dough bread, fried or deep-fried in oil, shortening, or lard. Made with simple ingredients, generally wheat flour, sugar, salt, and fat, frybread can be eaten alone or with various toppings.”

But I define it as a “golden-crusted bread that serves as the backbone to every Indigenous feast. The best frybread is crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and holds 10x its weight in soup. Frybread oil sizzles how the sun must sound.”

Advertisement

The Diné People (Navajo Nation) are largely credited with the creation of frybread.

In 1864, they used the provisions given to them by the United States Government when they were forced to make a 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate from Arizona to New Mexico. The land there didn’t support their traditional diet of veggies and beans. So with the flour and lard, they made frybread.

Since then, Indigenous tribes across the continent have developed it independently with different names and eating methods.

Advertisement

When you pull up to an Indigenous function and see a pan full of frybread (assuming you get there on time to get a piece), you always ask, “who made the bread?” You will give a different response depending on whose name is the answer to your question.

Neither flour nor oil (or lard) are considered valuable on their own. Hence why the Government gave them away so readily. As Indigenous people, we took that which was deemed invaluable and made it sacred.

Redemption.

Advertisement

II

All of my life philosophy is informed by the Bible. In the Bible, oil was used to anoint. To anoint is to sanctify or set the anointed person or object apart as holy.

The Bible also depicts Jesus as bread. In the gospel of John, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus was crucified, he took bread and broke it, saying, “this is my body, which is given for you.”

My favorite worship song of all time, “Oh the Cross,” has a refrain that says, “Thank you for
breaking the bread of your body and spilling the wine of your blood.”

That line is incredible. It’s gorgeous poetry. In fact, the Bible is all stunning poetic language, and Jesus is a master poet.

III

When I speak of redemption, I’m speaking of Jesus taking me, a sinner, and redeeming me in the sight of God, making me holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1: 3-7). I’ve found myself searching to be fulfilled by things in this world, only to be riddled with anxiety or uncertainty, broken, or in a mess. But through my belief in Jesus, I learned I could be redeemed.

There is a history in this country that says my life has no value as a half Indigenous and half Black man. But Jesus says otherwise. He took what was deemed invaluable and made it Holy.

This fact has changed my life. The Bible tells me I’m a new creation. Like taking flour and oil and turning it into something sacred.

This lesson changed the way I walk. At 25 years old, I’ve made scads of mistakes, and I have much more to make. But because of the redemptive power of Jesus, my back doesn’t have to be broken with the weight of guilt and shame. Now I can move forward into the things God has called me to.

My belief in grace for myself and others has helped me extend grace to them and, in turn, love them more. When I look at others, no matter what this world may say about them, I see someone who can be made holy.

We took flour and oil and made it a meal.

Jesus took me and made me not hunger.

Whether hot oil or holy fire, let us eat.

Advertisement

Related Posts

Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?