Allowing the Ferment: Or, what Kombucha has annoyingly taught me about the process of reflection

Kombucha. What a millennial marketing dream.

“Look guys, here’s a drink that is homemade and environmentally conscious and healthy but also feel free to buy it from us and feel so much better than everyone else when you drink it.”

Many of you will know Kombucha devotees who preach about its benefits to everyone and anyone who will listen. They will tell you to stop buying/drinking soft drink. They even may tell you how easy it is to make your own.

Now my first reaction, like many of these fads things, is a roll of the eyes. FAD ALERT AHOY!! OPPORTUNITY FOR CONSUMERIST EXPLOITATION AHOY! Mostly I wish I bought shares in Kombucha years ago. Even if that were possible.

The amazingly annoying thing, is that kombucha is actually really good for you – as is many many things that are fermented. Fermenting is the process of a chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria – bringing agitation, excitement and effervescence. The positive outcomes of fermentation, are a plethora. It’s also really tasty. Yes, I admit it.

According to choice Here’s just a few; it Preserves food,  Adds good microbes to the gut, Increases micronutrients, Makes food more palatable, Changes taste,  Eliminates anti-nutrients,  Decreases cooking times, and Produces carbon dioxide (yay for bread and beer and champagne). Indeed, before we understood the chemistry within, fermentation was believed to be a divine process, a gift from God himself.

Now despite the base ingredients, the common feature of all fermentation reactions?

Time. It’s the process that brings the benefit.

So it’s got me thinking lately. Is there also a benefit of allowing ideas, concepts, lessons, to ferment within me?

I am an educator. I truly love the teaching process. I love introducing concepts to my students (or friends or family  – I apologise to all of my long suffering mates) and seeing them wrestle with it – even better if we wrestle with it together.

So many times in my life, if I come across a gem of an idea, or a concept that I read about, I instantly think of how/where/who I could share that concept with. Many times in my study I think – who is this for? What lesson is this? In many ways, this is a good thing right? Long live public debate; the exchange of ideas, the grappling of concepts.

But here’s the thing. Maybe I need to allow concepts a little bit of fermenting time in order for them to achieve their true potential – or even for me to truly learn the lesson for myself – before I share them prematurely.

The story that keeps coming to mind for me is when Mary (mother of Jesus) hears this ridiculously amazing thing about the baby that she’s just given birth to. She is witness to the shepherd’s story of a HOST OF ANGELS in the SKY, singing glory to God. About HER baby. And what is her response to this incredible event/news?

“But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (Luke 2:19)

For many years I’ve always been dumbfounded and a bit annoyed at Mary and her reaction. Really? This is your response? You have confirmation of the deity of your newborn, and you ‘think about these things often’? Surely the first thing you want to do is tell other people about this, just like the shepherds did.

Come on Mary, don’t be lame.

But maybe Mary’s not being lame here. Maybe this is the ferment. Perhaps it’s a picture of something so wonderful, so special, that it requires a treasuring first before it’s shared with other people. The discernment and reflection gives honour and worth to the experience.

I understand the perhaps double standard nature of this post: Why are you sharing about not sharing Kirsten, in a format most famous for exposure? I hear this critique. Point Taken.

But mostly I think it’s a wonderful and weighty call that we can take seriously the responsibility of what we learn for ourselves, and then what we can share with the people in our world. All of us have opportunities to speak and be heard; some of us even have the privilege of being in responsibility and paid positions to do so.

If you are, could I encourage you, sit in the ferment. If you have a lesson that you’re learning, be honest about that stage – with yourself. It’s not about not being vulnerable, but perhaps it is a question of honouring what the process of reflection does for us.

Jesus honours the one who prays in secret – can we perhaps honour our stories and moments, giving ferment to them – so that when we do share, the words are curated, full of life; of effervescence, and much more palatable?

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