Suddenly, I realize it's past the noon hour and my stomach is giving me the signal to stop and find nourishment. The pungent smell of garlic roasting in the oven mixes and marries with the celery and onions sauteing in a large pan on the stove top. The bright green and white mixture brightens as the heat makes them dance and the gray skies of winter are forgotten. I get lost in a sensory experience and my spirits begin to lift.
Perhaps there are those who would read these words and think “she's taken leave of her senses.” If I look into past seasons of my life, I'd certainly agree with them. It wouldn't take long for me to conjure up memories of being a single mom arriving home late from work to face the dilemma of planning a meal for my two children. Certainly, during that time of my life, I found little to shout about when it came to meal preparation. So, where did I discover my new attitude towards culinary ventures? And is it possible that some day you current cooking “haters” will wake up to a new found interest in meal preparation?
Basing my answer strictly on my own experience, I could only hope that others would come to one day find joy and a sense of peace and comfort in that place called the kitchen. Let me start by saying every cooking experience does not make my face light up or send me to the computer to type an expose for you to read. Living alone, I've discovered, provides little motivation for spending hours prepping, cooking and the clean up that is required after a meal. However, it is a whole different story when the efforts will end in a gift I can lavish on someone in need or someone I love. I also find little enjoyment when I am faced with time constraints, one of the things I see so often draining the pleasure from our lives in the world today.
Our lives are largely lived through our five senses. In today's world of cash and carry, fast food and technology, we often bypass the pleasures that could be ours for the taking. Who hasn't heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses or the coffee?” or I might add, “the garlic, onions and celery.”
Often the scents of the kitchen invite me back to a time when life was slower and grandmas wore aprons and had time to fry chicken. It's part of who I am, like one of the puzzle pieces that I don't want missing when my life is finished here on earth.
I'm certainly not suggesting that every person reading this will have the same memories of grandma or that one day every individual will somehow miraculously morph into a Paula Deen or Bobby Flay. On the other hand, I do believe there are both inherent gifts within each of us and others that are passed along from one generation to the next. My opinion is there are too many constraints on our time. Other moments are wasted on the insignificant when we each might discover a hidden talent or gift that would bring great pleasure to our lives.
A dear friend sent me a gift in the mail this week. When I opened the Illustrated Discovery Journal and learned that there were quite a few pages set aside for making collages, there was a brief moment when I felt a twinge of fear or possibly dread. As I continued reading the first chapter, I was happy to discover the following phrases, “Think fun, delight, playing... think seven and a brand new set of paper dolls.” When was the last time you actually had fun? I would like to suggest that in our busy world we've lost the simplicity of life. We rarely take the time to experience life through our five senses or allow ourselves time to simply enjoy that thing we become so engaged with we forget the time and perhaps even miss a meal.
You don't have to look too far to get clues where your passions lie? What kind of magazines do you like to browse through? What makes your heart beat a little faster when you've been feeling apathetic about life. Or where do you see yourself when your heart suddenly comes to a place of peace and rest? What are you holding in your hand... a paint brush, a shovel, a spoon or a needle and thread? Do you find yourself decorating a home in your head or writing the words of a song?
Picture this....I've had soup on since I began this post. I open the lid of my crock pot. The aroma is so inviting as I bring a spoonful of the liquid to my lips. I'm doing a taste test. It's not a meal. I'm not committed to this new recipe just yet. But I will never know if I like the finished creation unless I try it out. Some of you just KNOW that spending a day in the kitchen on a winter day will NOT be the thing that makes you feel you've lived life to the full today. Go ahead and scratch that off your list if you are certain. But I challenge you to take just one day a month or one day a week to carve out some time and leave all the time constraints behind.
So, why not pick up that camera, cake decorating kit or hammer? We're only passing through this world once. Will your puzzle be complete when all the sands have found their way to the bottom of the hour glass? Think seven or ten or back before life became so crowded with obligations. You owe it to yourself and to God, who gave you your one and only passions and preferences.
Go ahead, think fun, think delight, think playing! And if you are saying as I know some of you might be, “I can't think of a thing I enjoyed when I was a child.” There's no time like the present. Perhaps its time for you to hit the local preschool and spend an hour observing some children in a game of pretend. Who knows what might happen? You might find yourself braiding home made Danish or painting your first ever portrait. Don't be so serious! Think FUN!!!
My grandmother who donned apron and fried chicken....
And cooking IS art... as my 8 yr old granddaughter said, "look at the flower in the mixing bowl!"
Grab your chalk...
...or rolling pin
...or push plow
and PLAY... think FUN!