An Annual Chili Cook-off with No Winner: A Paradigm for Breaking Bread

Published: March 26, 2014

This past weekend, my family and I went to an annual chili cook-off and spent time with friends we hadn’t seen since before Christmas. Chili is not a Belizean thing, but I’ve been to a few of these chili cook-offs here in the USA. As required there were quite a few different kinds of chili. There were vegetarian, venison, white, regular, and spicy chilis. Lest I forget there was cornbread and a serious salad (avocados and all). Of course there were the desserts: cherry cobbler, an extremely rich dairy dessert, and there was fruit. We ate, talked, laughed, and broke out the games Catan and Cathedral. The kids ran, played, had spats, made up and then got so tired some of them were crying by the time it was all over.nicolefamily

The funny thing about the Annual Chili Cook-off – there was no winner. Everyone seemed to forget. Maybe we meant to forget or maybe we didn’t. The cook-off, I believe, was more about being together, having fun together, talking together and breaking bread together. I sat on the green lawn chair in the fading day and my soul was moved. In quintessential, suburban America where all the houses looked the same to me and I would always need a GPS to navigate through, we were breaking bread.

During my first year at WakeDiv some of the very best conversations have been around cupcakes and coffee, community lunches and communion. I’m sure, even though I’ve never been, some of the best times of breaking bread have been at Mi Pueblo on Thursdays around nachos and drinks of choice. [Editor’s Note: Every Thursday students gather at a local Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo, to unwind and relax at the end of the week.] Something about sitting and eating around a common bowl, so to speak, sets us on equal ground. Something about breaking bread in communion is soul touchingly mysterious. Time likes these remind me to be present, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. To eat with someone makes them no longer a stranger. To eat with someone that you can’t stand has the potential to make them a brother or sister. To share food with others in sorrow and joy, in hurt and healing blurs into insignificance the lines that separate us. So remember to be present and let your soul be moved. In my life, for me, food has been a saving grace.

johnnm13Nicole Johnson
First Year

Nicole is a wife, a mother, a student, a sister, a daughter and a child of God. She is a native of Belize temporarily transplanted to North Carolina’s soil. One day she hopes her life will reflect for everyone to see the message that she tells her children: “we all breathe the same air and we drink the same water. There is enough for all.”