As many of you know, we had to travel the last few days to attend a funeral. Doing so kept me out of the physical kitchen for a few days. So coming back last night, I had a new appreciation for my kitchen. At the same time, however, it made me think about what a kitchen is. By definition, a kitchen is “a room or area where food is prepared and cooked.” We tend to think about a kitchen as containing certain things like a sink, stove, and refrigerator. However, the other night I gathered with Zoe’s family in the sitting area of the hotel where we brought down leftovers from the home going celebration and reheated them in the microwave and shared them at what became our “kitchen table”. It reminded me that not every culture thinks about kitchens in the same way or has in the past.
Even today, in some cultures, the kitchen is less about what is in it, but what happens in it; the bonding, sharing, and creation of family.it is the space where people gather, share stories, communicate in ways that do not involve technology (i.e. social media and texting), talk about their lives, and work together to share love and support for one another. The kitchen table becomes a place for the sharing of wisdom, of stories that heal, and a place to help raise each other’s consciousness. So often, our gatherings here at Inspiritual wind up happening around our kitchen table, rather then in the living room. There is something magical about the energy around one’s kitchen table.
The kitchen has the power to become a sanctuary built into our living space. It frees us to connect with others, but also to creatively interact with the creations that have found their way to our pantry. For some cooking is a vocation, for others an obligation, however, for me it is a spiritual exercise. It is an opportunity for me to infuse love into all that I do and to create something, which makes my “family” happy. It is one of the ways I connect with God and am able to be of service.
As I wrote about a few years ago, food is a universal language. It transcends culture, class, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. There is something ab out sharing a meal with others that creates bonds and heals wounds. The act of preparing the food, of cooking it, is an exercise that teaches us how to live with all of creation and to honor the patterns and cycles of nature. We may not be able to have a fresh food item on demand, but if we wait patiently it’s time will come again when we can benefit from its harvest.
My Bubby used to say you could tell a lot about a person by what is in, or not in, their kitchen. That teaching continues to take on new meanings for me as I grow and evolve in my own journey. I find myself being more mindful of the rhythm and flow of nature and not trying to circumvent the cycles by eating foods that are out of season, genetically modified, processed, and industrialized. Each day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how we eat, what we eat, and why we eat it. Each of these questions challenges us to move beneath the surface to grapple with questions we do not generally consider in our daily lives. What does your kitchen say about you?