I recently watched the Netflix show called Chef’s Table where they shared the story of Enrique Olvera’s famous dish called Molé Madre, which translates the Mother of Molé. Isn’t that a great name? As the storyline unfolded I was transfixed.
Traditional Mexican molé is made with chilies, tomatoes, dried fruits, spices, nuts and tortillas. Enrique honors this traditional cuisine, letting the ingredients age, and then he adds his own novel ingredients like bananas, hibiscus, and apples. The result is a delicious fusion of tradition and innovation. “Molé Madre is a breathing, living being,” says Enrique. For 400 years this dish has been growing and developing in fresh and unique ways. This is where we pause and say together, “Holy Molé Madre!”
My mind began to compare making Molé to Christianity to my love for poetry. In the same way the honored traditional mole has developed, the ancient way of Christian life continues to develop. Blending tradition and innovation is not to be feared but wisely crafted into something compelling, something that brings more meaning and purpose to our lives.
This is why I am on the planet. Like Chef Olvera, I take the rich traditions of Christian Faith and cook them carefully with new and fresh ways of thinking about God. The result is a fusion of tradition and innovation that wakes the senses and expands possibilities. Often, as I think about an aspect of Christian Spirituality and Faith I am looking for ways to communicate that aren’t stale or clichéd. I find that only poetry with its use of images and cadence, its vulnerability and strangeness, have the power to open up faith for us in new and fresh ways. So yeah, that’s the best way I can explain my vocation as pastor, poet, and educator. One more time: “Holy Molé Madre!”