C is for Cookie

August 16th, 2010 – by Laura Lehman Amstutz, Editors Blog

One of my favorite poems related to faith and life is Jeff Gundy‘s Cookie Poem.

The Cookie Poem
“Here are my sad cookies”

The sad cookies. The once and future cookies.
The broken sweet cookies. The cookies
of heartbreaking beauty. The stony cookies
of Palestine. The gummy and delicious
olive and honey cookie. The pasty
damp cookie trapped in the child’s hand.

Sad cookies, weird cookies, slippery
and dangerous cookies. Brilliant helpless
soiled and torn cookies, feverish and sweaty
cookies. Sullen cookies, sassy cookies,
the cookies of tantrum and the cookie of joy
and the sweet dark cookie of peace.

The faithful cookie of Rotterdam. The wild-eyed
cookie of Muenster. The salty Atlantic cookie.
Cookies in black coats, in coveralls,
in business suits, cookies in bonnets
and coverings and heels, cookies scratching
their heads and their bellies, cookies utterly
and shamelessly naked before the beloved.

Cookies of the Amish division, cookies
of the Wahlerhof, cookies of Zurich and
Stassburg and Volhynia and Chortitza,
Nairobi Djakarta Winnipeg Goshen.
Cookies who hand their children off
to strangers, who admonish their sons
to remember the Lord’s Prayer, cookies
who say all right, baptize my children
and then sneak back to the hidden church anyway.
Cookies who cave in utterly. Cookies
who die with their boots on. Cookies
with fists, and with contusions.
The black hearted cookie. The cookie with issues.
Hard cookies, hot cookies, compassionate
conservative cookies, cookies we loathe
and love, cookies lost, fallen, stolen,
crushed, abandoned, shunned. Weary
and heroic cookies, scathingly noted cookies,
flawed cookies who did their best.
Single cookies, queer cookies, cookies of color,
homeless cookie families sleeping the car,
obsolete cookies broken down on the information
highway. Sad cookies, silent cookies,
loud cookies, loved cookies, your cookies,
my cookies our cookies, all cookies
God’s cookies, strange sweet hapless cookies
marked each one by the Imago Dei,
oh the Father the Son the Mother The Daughter
and the Holy Ghost all love cookies,
love all cookies, God’s mouth is full
of cookies, God chews and swallows and flings
hands wide in joy, the crumbs fly
everywhere, oh God loves us all.

Published first in 2000 in Rhapsody with Dark Matter and republished countless times in other venues, this poem says something deep and profound to me about life and faith. Kind of ironic for a poem about cookies, right?

For me, the cookie poem is about remembering who we are. It points to Anabaptist history in imagery, and reminds me of a God who delights in us all, even in our failures, collective and individual.

Gundy, who was my professor at Bluffton University, has apparently gotten a little bit of flak from people about the Cookie Monster God image. But for me there is something extremely compelling about that image. A God who is so delighted with us that God can’t get enough. The idea of God looking at me and saying, in Cookie Monster’s voice “ooohhhh cookie!” makes me giggle.

So many of our images of God are serious and stolid. They lack playfulness and imagination. Even some of my favorite biblical images, God as mother hen and Jesus as shepherd, have an underlying somber note.

Maybe this is because ultimately God is serious business. But I have a hard time imagining that the God who created the giraffe and the flamingo isn’t more passionate and humorous than we give God credit for.

So why not God as Cookie Monster? I am certainly sometimes a “cookie with issues” or a “flawed cookie who did their best” and in these times I desperately want a God who loves me, and who loves us all, with passion and abandon. How is this God represented in our churches and in our lives?

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