Quieting the Soul

It amazes me still (and likely I will always feel this way) what ordinary moments do to calm my soul and quiet my spirit. Work is busy, yet monotonous. Family members have health problems – quite serious ones. There are disagreements, then chasms, with close friends. Money is tight. And it all melts away in my kitchen.

I don’t even enter the kitchen with a restorative moment in mind – I enter the kitchen tense and tired and hungry. I set out to cook something that I used to think was a production, reserved only for elaborate weekend meals, only because I’m afraid the produce will go bad and my careful market purchases will be all for naught.

And then as I blanch the onions, take down the chicken, sauté the bacon… my body knows this dish. It’s quick; it’s rote. My mind slows, then shuts off – I switch to the attentive, quiet solitude of knowing something by heart. I’m cooking coq au vin on a weeknight. The knot in my shoulder eases. No tears well up in my eyes. I become vaguely aware that I am breathing again.

The smell of coq au vin with fresh morels and the Freemark (the bottle of 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon that was a splurge for us) simmering on the stove is a revelation. It is more than just a band aid on what, at times, is a very tiring life (as we all have our moments of feeling just this way). It awakens me – I realize once again that my life is not all that tiring, or difficult, or painful. It is what it is – and the best we can do is take the little moments and savor them with a depth and breadth of purpose that is everything to us in that moment… that will sustain us between times. Another half hour and I will eat the fruits of my labor – but still, I am being nourished as I wait.