For a bulk of my 20s I went meatless. Not necessarily “vegetarian” as I still enjoyed birds of the air and fish of the sea. I differentiated between species created on the 5th day vs. species made on the 6th. My objections were sheer preference. I just didn’t enjoy meat. I found it quite simple to navigate around it, save for the occasional church potluck, so I always went for the bird.
During that same period of my life I was introduced to Patty B by way of mutual vocation. She avidly avoided the meat, even in a “who-double-dipped-from-the-taco-meat-into-the-sour-cream?” kind of way. But she didn’t simply hold a distaste for the product, she abhorred the process.
Hailing from the cornfields of Iowa, at some point in her life Patty came to feel strongly that the food being produced might better serve us by feeding humans rather than cows, but our over-meated society, with its operations based on supply-and-demand, tilted the scales otherwise. Patty’s plate preferences were about much more than cut and doneness… they were about how our decisions affected the greater good.
In my many years sharing ministry time with Patty, I learned so much. She practiced a kind of patience that I could only dream of when it came to jr. high kids. But she could savor the humor that came with it and toss in a bit of sarcasm or irony when needed. And she was influential in my transition to understanding that salvation, while a personal decision, is also a corporate gift. All of creation matters to God.
Patty signed her emails “peace, Patty B.” And not just in a jiving-hippie kind of way, though the girl does play the oboe, has her nose pierced and regularly practices yoga, so she holds that license. But when I received an email from Patty signed “peace”, I was reminded of something of the inner and the outer. Shalom… making things right. I was reminded that peace was a concept of personal and corporate responsibility, and by knowing Patty, I was exposed to what that might look like.
From her participation with the abstinence-ed work to talking about faith and life and what it means to follow God, Patty lives out loud the idea that there’s something beyond the finished product. How we arrive matters. If you were to cross-stitch Patty B into a wall hanging, perhaps it would say, “joy is the journey and not a destination.”