Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There's Sticks in My Manna and Other Discoveries

“Now the manna was like coriander seed.”
—Numbers 11:7

This past weekend I did something I have never done before. Spending a day at the farm, I was faced with a mound of dried coriander plant. Still on the plant, the tiny balls had to be separated from the impossibly thin, dry stalks. In theory, this would leave you with a tidy bucket of coriander seeds to be ground and used as spice. What it left me with, however, was a bucket of dried leaves, sticks, and other sharp objects, sore hands, and a lot of little balls of coriander rolling all over the floor.

After this experience, I knew coriander in the biblical sense. I mean, I really knew coriander in a way that seeing it in a pristine glass jar with a green lid already ground up into a fine powder never, ever let me know it. Like most of the Christian faith, it’s not till we slow down and get our hands dirty that we figure anything out.

But even more amazing than my discovery of the truth about coriander was what I found that night when doing a casual search for the word “coriander” in the Bible. Coriander was MANNA. Or at least very close to it. And gone in an instant were my visions of perfect white flakes that people scooped up neatly into a bowl to be cooked. Instead, I pictured balls of manna running over the grass, getting mixed hopelessly with twigs, needing to be swept off the ground, poking people’s hands as they tried to separate it. God promises he will feed the people, but he doesn’t promise that it will be easy.

So to all of you whose coriander comes in pretty labeled jars, let give you two pieces of advice: 1. Look closely, look very closely at the picture of that little plant on the front and think just for a second about how it got from that plant into that jar, and thank God—I mean really, THANK God that there are farmers who know about these things. And 2: Realize that unless you’ve spent some time getting to know coriander, odds are very high you’re totally missing the point of manna.


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