In the south, we love mixing it up in the kitchen. Some combinations of ingredients just belong in the same dish. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato or cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise craft classic sandwiches. Onions, bell peppers, and celery, known as the Cajun Holy Trinity, are the foundation to many savory recipes. Ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar are the start to any sweet, spicy, or mild barbeque sauce.

Some concoctions are opposite collisions of taste and texture. Cayenne and dark chocolate. Sea salt and caramel. Coke and peanuts. Biscuits and chocolate gravy. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries.

Ingredients hold hands with instructions. Fold in the cheese. (Smile if you know Moira and David.) Knead the dough. Temper the eggs. Marinate the shrimp. Incorporate the flour. Recipe directions serve one purpose: To create flavor by bringing together a variety of food elements.

For twelve years, I was a member of a well-established, structured Bible study that was known for its in-depth and inductive learning style. Did you see the word structured? That means there were rules. A lot of rules. In fact, I started the study in 1985 before I was a mom and left two years later because they did not provide childcare for babies. (That is not the case now. They have modified some rules over the years.)

My initial response to “the rules” was a dramatic eye roll that would have made my mother shudder. The guidelines seemed stringent and ridiculous. But I abided by them because I wanted to study the Bible using their method and to experience community with new friends. Over the years, I learned first-hand why many of the rules were in place and the detrimental effects of not following them. I was humbled and appreciative of the careful thought that designed the boundaries.

One rule I mocked at first was the request to keep our church affiliations and political preferences to ourselves and not mention them during discussion time. We were charged to focus on what we had in common. Not all Bible studies follow this policy. I believe there are sacred places where opposing beliefs can be challenged and discussed. But this Bible study organization encouraged a clear goal: To cultivate unity by bringing together our shared study of scripture.

The phrase “bring together” has many synonyms that evoke vivid imagery. Reconcile. Harmonize. Dovetail. Knit. Intersect. Herald. As opportunities open up for us to be with family, friends, and people we do not know, I hope we can persuade our hearts and minds to seek ways to bring us together for good.

May we “reconcile” a wounded relationship.

May we “harmonize” with different voices.

May we “dovetail” our dreams with others.

May we “knit” with variegated threads.

May we “intersect” intentionally.

May we “herald” the unexpected.

And may love be the supreme motivation for mixing it up in the kitchen, finding common ground in diverse groups, and bringing together humanity.

“Love doesn’t seek to be right. Love protects the relationship.” Craig Groeschel

Check out these famous southern recipes.

Moira and David fold in the cheese.