I grew up in a spiritual tradition that did not practice liturgy. However, as I have gotten older, I have begun to appreciate the beauty that is found in liturgical practices. I am noticing more the beauty, the glorious, and how the Divine meets us in everyday ordinary practices. In my spiritual journey this past decade, I have come to understand, because of gracious teaching inside of my church, that all of life is meant to be, and is actually, spiritual. Instead of compartmentalizing sections of my life as spiritual and secular, it all merges into the spiritual realm. Instead of picking up and putting down my spiritual life, what if it was meant to follow me into every part of my day? If liturgy is the practice of spiritual disciplines, and a discipline is something done over and over regularly, and all of life is spiritual, than I would like to suggest that cooking, feeding ourselves and other people, and gathering around a table is a spiritual discipline. However, I think for so many of us, it is a spiritual discipline that we have been neglecting at worst and not noticing at best.
So what does this spiritual discipline mean to us? What does that practically look like in our every day ordinary lives? What if I am meant to become more aware of the Divine, of God’s presence, when I am dicing onions on my worn cutting board, and setting the table, for the what must be millionth time? What if God comes to meet me as I wipe away the crumbs of a leftover meal and plan the menu for the next? What if I can “taste and see that God is good” when cool creamy guacamole hits my tongue, or the bite of a Cabernet Sauvignon slides down my throat? Maybe it is more literal than I have ever understood. What if the liturgy of the table is the perfect place for God to show up in our everyday lives? Perhaps these small everyday rituals are what form us and propel us further forward in our journey to look more like Jesus. Maybe just maybe this spiritual discipline is just as meaningful and worth noticing as worshiping inside of a church building. If all of life is really spiritual, than perhaps the thousands of opportunities that I have to be present in my kitchen as I plan, prep, and cook meals, set the table, and draw my people and others around the table, is a very spiritual practice that is very much needed and very much screaming for my attention.
I am hoping to make space that gives us fresh eyes to see our kitchens and our tables as sanctuaries – sanctuaries of healing, of hope and of enormous love. In a culture that is so fixated on ease, efficiency, and haste, may we allow ourselves room to slow down, to feed our souls good food and purpose to nourish the people around us in the process. I long for us to journey toward the spiritual discipline of cooking and coming together at the table. May we enter into mindfulness that reveals our connection to God, to each other, and to the world as a whole. When I think back on my own experiences in this spiritual discipline, I notice that cooking and feeding people continually manifests connection, and connection is what we were created for and long to have with one another and with our Creator. Cooking can bring us into community with God, as we acknowledge His goodness in the pleasure of the food we eat, and it brings us into community with one another as we gather together around the table, and in community with the world as we experiment with foods from various cultures.
Cooking can very much be a spiritual discipline, and perhaps it is one of the most basic ones that we can pick up, and yet it is one that is so easy for us to neglect in our fast-paced, fast food lives. I believe that together we can make small changes that grow us in our awareness. Instead of opening up a can and warming the contents in the microwave, what if we chopped some vegetables and noticed the crispness of the carrots as the knife slid through the brightly colored vegetables? What if it connected us back to the earth that God created from which the carrots grew from? In the slowing down, we can enjoy this sometimes seemingly mundane practice, and find ourselves in a position of true gratitude for the food, and the people, and the world around us. Ultimately we position ourselves to feel gratitude to the God who gave us all these things. When something takes time, I notice that I am more thankful for that thing. It is no different with the food we prepare. Instead of ordering a bag at Chick Fil’a, what if we come home, turn on some music, pour a glass of wine, slow down time for a moment, and find ourselves noticing the goodness of God more in the food we prepare for the people that we love? What if we slow down and notice the Divine in the ordinary? I desire to elevate the kitchen’s place in our daily lives, and I desire for you to join me in this journey.
[An unedited, rough excerpt from my unfinished manuscript.]