Like many, especially when my children were younger, cooking was sometimes enjoyable and sometimes a chore, but mostly a necessity in order to get dinner on the table or lunch boxes prepared for the next day.

Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.

~Guy Fieri

Now that my kids are grown and gone, I find myself in the kitchen working on recipes and wishing I had relished those moments a bit more rather than rushing through them. I have a blended family so our moments together were sometimes sporadic but super vital to our little family unit. I don’t think I would have taken this advice back then, but I wish someone had said, “whoa, slow down and enjoy the moment, Kristin; make that spaghetti sauce and feel the love!” These days I ache for the times when I could see their hands trying desperately to sneak a pinch of cookie dough or a chunk of freshly cooked ground beef for the pasta sauce. I had three little carnivores and one vegetarian, so cooking was always an adventure in our home, to say the least.

It occurred to me while peeling a gorgeous Ube sweet potato today, that instead of looking back at the guilt of pushing through meal prep, think of that time in my life as my gift of love to my family. And although it was sometimes simply the homemade mac and cheese that brought them to the table, they were all at one table, and that is so very special.

You see it was always during dinner prep that the conversations would begin to flow, and funny stories would arrive out of nowhere. It typically extended to the dinner table and my husband and I would look at each other and giggle at their perceptions of life, friends, school, and everything in-between. And it magically (or spiritually) regenerated my mental energy, even though a few hours later my body would abandon me out of protest from exhaustion.

I’m now older and somewhat wiser and as I reflect on these moments in my home kitchen and at the table with my family, I’ve re-evaluated my perception of cooking. It is my spiritual practice. Because what is a spiritual practice other than doing something regularly that provides a connection to something bigger than ourselves?  

So, parents and caregivers, lovers and friends, when you’re in your kitchen cooking and feel the insane pressures from your day and the activities that place a demand on your time, take a breath, close your eyes (not while wielding your paring knife of course) and feel the connection you have to the ones you love. Because this, my dear ones, is a moment of spiritual practice. A quiet practice that only needs one relished minute to fill your entire soul and your family with the love they know they can count on from you.

There will, of course, be days when cooking will not feel like a spiritual practice and that’s okay. Simply settle on a moment a few times a week to soak in each slice of tomato or stir of the pan, while listening to the ones you love share the spectacular details of their day.

So, cheers to the messy kitchens, the loud family discussions, the homework questions, the boyfriend dilemmas, the infectious laughter, the pre-dinner nibbling, the, please take the dog for a walk requests, and all the glorious moments wrapped up in this one beautiful life.

<3 <3 <3