Many of us, on this day, will be cleaning and cooking in a frenzy to put together a meal for family or friends. It is easy to lose sight of enjoying that meal or those people in the hustle and bustle of the day. It is easy sometimes to feel resentful of the time others have to visit and chat while cloistered in the kitchen away from the gathering (though sometimes the solitude is nice as well). It is easy to feel frustrated when people stuff their face at a pace that far outstrips the care and work that goes into preparing such a feast.
It is at this time (and really, any time one prepares a large meal for a gathering) to remember the immense power that we wield, and the sacred task that we are undertaking.
The kitchen is a temple, and all the pots, pans, spices, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the stove, spoons, knives, bowls, and plates, are all Divine objects, full of consciousness, waiting to become part of the Divine, alchemical process of creating a meal. Allow the fire of your soul to become part of the heating element that cooks your food.
As we go about this day, there may be times where we feel harried, impatient, overwhelmed, and just plain cranky. When this happens, stop and breathe. If necessary, pull someone else into the kitchen (or pull someone else out of the kitchen and take their place), and go outside and breathe.
What we do in this space is ritual. It has intention. It is magic. It is transformative. It is the act of worship itself–of service to life.
Though we all guilty (some of us more often than others) from being overly familiar and dismissive of the act of eating and the preceding task of preparing food–perhaps because we see it as common, or because it is transitory and fleeting…or both–it is a simple truth of life that cooking is an intensely sacred life-affirming act of creation.
Whether you are cooking for one or for twenty, for yourself or for strangers, your actions and your intentions matter.
Preparing and cooking food is a magical act, a potent, alchemical process, through which one form is transformed into another form: varied ingredients are deftly combined and subjected to the elements of water, fire and air in just the right proportions, with just the right timing and with appropriate spells—consisting of good mental intentions—to manifest a delicious meal that satisfies both body and soul. A cookbook can be seen as a book of formulas for this magical process, complete with how-to instructions, suggestions, and advice, which, if followed with a cheerful heart and sense of adventure, could result in the most delightful culinary experiences manifesting on the dinner table. Food prepared in this way can even produce a shift in perception of oneself and others, yielding hope and encouragement to move forward through life.
**All quotes are from Sharon Gannon, adapted from the book, Simple Recipes for Joy, September 2014 (as found here, in its entirety–I cut some of the quote out for being unnecessarily and unhelpfully preachy, IMO)**