Thursday, November 22, 2012

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving

By the time you read this post, most of you will have already prepared most—if not all—of the dishes that make up your Thanksgiving feast. I must confess that I've started and prepared, but am not even halfway there yet! I'm not worried... I'm having a lot of fun this year playing with new recipes courtesy of Rachel Ray

After our children left home for college, I went through a very long period (read YEARS!) where I had absolutely no desire, incentive or energy to cook anything. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that I was burnt out and needed a break.

But for the past couple of years, I’ve come back to see cooking, maybe even for the first time in my adult life, as fun. I love to play with the colors, the smells, the touch of fresh food. Hand to hand with my potted herbs and Michael’s vegetable garden, preparing and viewing food within our commitment to learn how to live healthy has become for me a joyous creative outlet.

Unless we make a deliberate choice otherwise, most of us seem to view household tasks like cooking as "a monotony that can occasion listlessness, apathy and despair," noted poet and author Kathleen Norris in The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work."

A Presbyterian Benedictine oblate, Norris has written on monasticism before. I love her book The Cloister Walk. Yet in this very short treatise (90 pages!!) Norris provocatively proposes that even daily and ordinary tasks—the quotidian in our every day—can be sources of meaning, devotion and prayer. We're talking about laundry, making bread, sweeping, cooking, you name it.

Listen to this:
“The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us--loves us so much that we the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed everyday". Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minuitae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God.” 

[NOTE: Norris originally presented these thoughts as part of the Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality at St. Mary’s College (now University) in South Bend, IN, in 1998.]