Black-Eyed Peas and Pork

three fried meats on cast iron skillet

And now, I ask myself, “Why are black-eyed peas always served with pork?” Maybe it’s a Southern tradition or as regional as red beans and rice. Perhaps food, like language, has its own sort of culinary dialect. Maybe tradition, our sense of how to order things, is a human construct offering a feigned security we wish not to relinquish. Maybe we like to do what we have always done because that’s the way it has always been. Isn’t that Southern, too?

I remember not liking black-eyed peas and pork so much.  The peas and pork probably suffered from associating the turnips on my plate with my offended olfactory nerves. I believed pork was better served shredded with South Carolina mustard barbeque sauce and white bread – Sunbeam. Peas and pork were tolerable, but my view was – again! Mom had a low tolerance for her children complaining about supper and Mom’s attitude came with the tone of voice to match. I learned to keep my mouth shut and try to get along with some hems and haws. I knew someday I would leave that jail and I could eat what I wanted.

“So, the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16, NKJV).

The idea we can live independent from constriction is a seduction ripe with falsity. Of course, we have to live a while to learn this. Our goal to be independent is an attempt at superiority called by many names. First and last are the prisms and frames by which we wish to construct an earthly life. The minute we believe we are superior; someone becomes the lesser. It is the self-righteous trap. And we reap our own harvest.

This picture, this desire and frame around lesser and greater is an entry into God’s domain and dominion, the means of searching not only the existential questions but the purpose of the existential answer. God desires we think, search inwardly and understand His good intent. The end of faith is to see as God sees, to love as He does.

So, how are we ever to become last? How are we to mortify this earthly perspective, this value system servicing our seduction? It is not an economic question. It is not enough to intellectually answer it. It’s a matter for the heart.

I spent years eating only what I wanted, grinding peas and pork only when social graces demanded it. And once the long years began to deliver their wisdom, I grew weary. Satiety is a short-term joy unraveling and inching toward a long-term consequence.

I came home the other evening and waiting on the stove was a supper of black-eyed peas and pork, minus the turnips. A smile emerged. I’ve grown past my attitude. I don’t crave peas and pork just yet, but I enjoy them.

I may not be at the end of faith, but God is taking me there.

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).

1 thought on “Black-Eyed Peas and Pork”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *