I have a new love. It's pretty amazing really. It snuck up on me, took me by surprise. I guess it started as all new loves do: slowly, growing stronger over time, beginning as a mere acquaintance, deepening into friendship, leaning into longing, finally erupting into a full-blown love. It's true. I love . . . .
There. I said it. Those who know me well know how astounding this is. I didn't exactly grow up wanting to be domestic. I have a little girl in my pre-school class who is absolutely darling. Each time I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she says, "a mommy." This was not me. I wanted to be a carreer woman, wearing power suits and power hose. I wanted to be important, to look important, to do important things. I wanted a Ph.D. and all the accolades that came with it. And I absolutely hated to cook.
My how things change.
Last night I received one of the most wonderful compliments my family could give me. At the dinner table one of my boys accidently called me Nanny. They enjoyed dinner so much they thought their grandmother had made it. My husband's mother has been a great cook longer than I've been alive. She is one of the best cooks around. And I promise my chicken tenders were no where close to hers. But it sure did make me feel good to have my culinary skills included with hers by the men in my life who mean the most to me. Those are some pretty amazing accolades in my book.
I'm not ever going to pretend that I'm a great cook, but I have learned to love cooking. Preparing the evening meal for my family feels like prayer to me. I love the simplicity of bringing a meal together from beginning to end. I love the mystery of turning the words-on-paper recipe into something I can actually taste, savor, enjoy. I even love the simple rythm of chopping vegetables and preparing ingredients for the actual act of cooking. It builds anticipation within me, a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself, of contributing something real and needed to those I love. And the end product just always tastes so darn good! (Well, except for that upside down shepherd's pie with the dill and parsley in it. GROSS!)
Here's the deeper truth. When I am in the kitchen I remember that God is also all about rendering simple ingredients into something singular, exquisite, beautiful. God makes us all so different, and then sprinkles us all around until the world bursts with flavor. I love how He does that. I love how God arranges us throughout life with purpose and forethought. Sometimes our purpose is to add spice. Sometimes we are to contrast nicely with the dominant flavor. Sometimes we are placed as a compliment to others. Sometimes we are to be the main course, providing simple sustainance. But never are we wasted. Our lives are meant to make others hungry and thirsty for more of Him, to give a taste of His goodness, His fullness, His grace, His abundance, His bounty.
Cooking has become a place of worship for me. Each day I am reminded of the incarnation, Word becoming flesh, as the words on the back of the box actually turn into something I can digest. I am reminded that God's Word sent forth into my life is just as real. The Jesus I read about each night as I tuck my boys into bed is the same Lord and Savior that sends His Holy Spirit to guide me through each day. And the place where I prepare the nourishment for my family has become Holy Ground for me. My new favorite quiet space is at the kitchen table, complete with Bible, journal and hot tea in hand. In my gut it feels completely natural that the place I feed my physical body is also the place I feed the spiritual one.
I guess I keep coming back to the realization that the most Holy moments of life are actually the most ordinary ones. In this particular season, my life is so full of ordinary. That's not a bad thing. It's really a restful, restorative, beautiful, kind of ordinary. The kind of ordinary I am completely thankful for. And I am so grateful that God's Word still accomplishes His purposes even through the most humble and ordinary "bread for the eater" kinds of ways.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do no return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11