Big Veda

In Hinduism, a Veda is a knowledge or truth writing. I don't pretend that this stuff is anything more than rumination. But through writing it I find a bit of knowledge or truth. Hope you find some truth too. PAX


To want the cake...

I pretty much like cake at any time or place. There isn't an occasion that can't be aptly commemorated by consuming a sickenly sweet cake. Why is cake the go-to celebratory confection? I think that we like cakes because, for those of us who have baked cakes, we understand that to make a cake is a labor of love. There are myriad confections that we can bake for a special occasion but the cake is not just a treat to be eaten. A cake is a canvas. We devote as much time, if not more time, decorating the cake as we do baking it. The cake is a kind of greeting card that is shared with a community. With cakes we may say "Happy Birthday" or "We'll Miss You". To my wife's chagrin, I can (and often do) walk into a Hallmark store and select an appropriate card for special occasions while we are on our way to an event. I know that this can be done with little thought. But, to bake a cake requires that we know something of the person for whom the cake is made. We have to know if they like German Chocolate or lemon cake. Do they prefer buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting? Do they have a favorite color? Pro sports team? Movie? Book? You see how this requires more from the baker than from the procrastinating bafoon running into Hallmark on the way to a birthday party. The irony of the cake is that it takes so much thought and preparation to produce something that we are going to summarily destroy and digest. Unlike other gifts, we don't get to hold onto the cake. A popular tradition for newlyweds is to save a piece of their wedding cake in the freezer and eat it on their first anniversary. This is rediculous. You pay a king's ransom for, quite possibly, the best tasting cake you will ever have made for you and then you subject it to 12 months of freezer burn to choke it down a year later. Just eat your cake at the reception. Cakes, unlike other gifts, become more than another eventually forgotten possession. It becomes part of us. We digest the cake and it becomes, essentially, part of our very being. We share this cake with our community and we become, essentially the same in that we have shared the very same substance and are communing with the ingredients more intimately than any other gift we could receive. If we begin to see a cake as so much more than a matter of proper party-planning we will have a more difficult time cutting into it and consuming it. We will want to keep and possess the cake. So in a sense, we want our cake and to eat it too.

The adage "have your cake and eat it too" may be better understood as "eat your cake and have it too." If we eat the cake we can no longer have it in the sense that we possess a card or other gift. It really conceives of the tension between holding a precious gift and losing possession of it by becoming one with it. Matters of faith are infinitely illustrative of this very fact. We want faith, but when we obtain it, we are reluctant to take it into us so that it transforms us. When faith, like a cake, remains an artifact it fails to become what it is intended to be: transcendent. The cake, when consumed by the community, transcends the physical definition of "cake" and becomes "us". In this sense, we can have our cake and eat it too. We can have our faith and and be transformed by it too.




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