Chili sauce and coconut milk: a comingled life of Holy

Recently I had a craving for Thai Peanut Soup.  I had all the ingredients in the shed, so I set about to make myself a huge, steaming bowl.

I could not but help to notice the ingredients and how they are reflecting my life right now and perhaps yours in our stressed confines.  There is deep rich spiciness as from the Thai spices and chilis.  But there is also soothing, creamy peanut butter and coconut milk.  The one would be too much to manage and the other perhaps too dull to much enjoy.

We create our ecstasy and we create our peace. And when we choose anesthetizing addictions we dull the light as well as the darkness.

Ecstasy comes from a Greek word which can easily mean “insane.” But then it was used frequently by 17th century mystical church writers for “a state of rapture that stupefied the body while the soul contemplated divine things,” furthering the divide between body and soul.

I wonder what it would take to bring together the divine, her soul and the body; the stuff of heaven and the stuff of earth.  And I further wonder why we must choose?

As the Church is squeezed by a shrinking following, she is beginning to show signs of stress not unlike those we are all feeling in our COVID lock-down.  “What happens if things change?” “What will happen if our church has no money?”  “What will happen if we lose our home?” “What would I do if I were not a priest?” “Who would pay me, a Bishop, if the church’s finances collapse at the end of the Boomer Generation?” (and the will…)

As with the first Fall of Rome, the church will turn its rage and frustration in on itself just as the Senators began murdering each other while the Visigoths approached the gates and the peasants fled temples into freedom’s pastures. When Bishops turn clergy against each other, we have reached a peak not only of cowardice, but of collapse.

We annually and obediently set aside Holy Week to honor the nails driven into Jesus’ hands and yet we drive those very same nails into each others’ hands all the time while dulling our pains with excitement rather than ecstasy.  Excitement is an intoxicant – an anesthesia.  It is ecstasy’s ugly step-sister.

As I mixed the deep red curry oils into the tan peanut butter, I wondered when will come a day when the people of God just embrace the ecstasy and the peace; both.  When will we stop confusing glamor and beauty? When will we leave the excitement and the glamor to die their natural, inauthentic deaths; slowly beginning to swirl the peace and ecstasy the way one swirls the chili oil and the coconut milk in a Thai Peanut Soup?

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Recently, I had a craving for Thai Peanut Soup. I had all the ingredients in the shed so here is how I make it…

Heat 2 tablespoons butter or sesame oil. ( Use chili oil if you like it hot – but don’t let it smoke – it hurts!)

Add to the heated oil
2 stalks celery, minced or chopped
1 small onion, minced or chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Simmer on medium-high 2 minutes until onions are translucent but not browned. Add and stir quickly
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

When the paste is well-cooked (one minute) but not browned add

2 tablespoons of Thai curry paste ( or 2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper) – stir well.

1 (8 ounce) can chicken or vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
Simmer 20 minutes.

Here above in the photo of mine last night and served in one of my own home-made bowls made with a turquoise reduction glaze, I have garnished the soup with wasabi peas, candied ginger, and chopped Thai peppers. Hot. Crunch. Smooth. Sweet. Sensual. Holy. Heaven. As good as any collect.

Charles LaFond is an Episcopal priest, author, speaker, potter, and fundraiser living on the cliffs of an island in the Salish Sea. He writes The Daily Sip (; which is neither.

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