Thousands of words.
TOO MANY dishes.
1 messy calendar.
Toward the end of October, so many friends and family had sent photos of breads and scones they had made, others had come by my office to tell me what they’d made at home, some brought baked goods into the office. One told me that she thought if I could bake, she could do it, too. Something was happening with all this talk of being in the kitchen. I haven’t had a month like this past October before. I wrote and baked and chopped. I shared life in a new way with my people here and everywhere else.
On October 26th, a group of friends gathered in my kitchen to make dinner: lemon chicken pasta, salad with Julia Child’s basic vinaigrette and warm, crispy bread. I pulled out all the cutting boards and knives I had and soon we were all chopping something and weaving our ways through the kitchen to drop a wrung lemon in the trash can or to add an ingredient to the pot on the stove. We took the finished meal out to the picnic tables near my apartment and toasted some hard cider. It was one of the loveliest moments of my Nashville time so far; I barely spoke during the meal for full-heartedness. This was what #31DaysintheKitchen was about. It was sweet and simple and perfect.
In an effort to wrap up this project, here is what I know on October 31, 2014:
I am a Christian, and I believe that God is with me in the most quotidian life moments, like driving to work or pushing a cart through the grocery store. A while back a friend of mine challenged me to find how God was providing for me in everyday moments, to seek out ways He was showing me that He knew what I needed, even if it was simply the perfect song being the first one on shuffle.
After that conversation, I jumped in to writing every day for a month because I had the time to do it, and I was thinking about cooking nonstop. I needed to put my thoughts somewhere and figure out why I suddenly got so excited about pie birds and rolling pins. I’m still figuring it out, but I’m getting closer.
It has to do with nourishment. You know when we pray for God to bless food to the nourishment of our bodies? He does it, and He never works on just that physical level of nourishment. If we ask God to nourish, He’ll nourish us in the exact way we need it—which, sure, is always partly because we need calories to keep moving, but it’s more often than not also at the level of our soul.
Being in the kitchen became a way that my soul was fed, and often I didn’t notice it besides generally feeling comforted with ingredients lying around a cutting board and a paring knife in my hand, slicing into an onion. But then the ruined apple tarts came along, and besides showing me that the kitchen is a place of humility, it showed me how God was working in my tiny apartment kitchen.
Cooking has a way of revealing to us what we need. Sometimes things do go right—and if I’d needed that, the tarts would’ve come out perfectly. The crust would’ve broken into tiny sheets on our plates and the apples would’ve been soft and sugared, almost caramelized. But I’d been overthinking that “dinner party” and trying to mask my kitchen’s size and its pockets of dust gathered in its corners. What I needed was something to break down and remind me that it was important not to be perfect but to be available, to point people to drawers with paring knives, and to set them up at the table mincing garlic. I needed to trust that dessert would fall by the wayside and that dinner would be enough to fill us.
Ultimately, this is God in the kitchen providing, as He does, every time, without fail, nourishment. And it is meant – I’m as sure of it as ever – for both our souls and our bodies.
Here’s to more garlic and olive oil, brown sugar and oats, and a lifetime of kitchen moments that will feed us forever.
(And I still feel like this about food.)