I had spent all morning, as well as the previous day, job searching. I was feeling tired, overwhelmed, small. As I sat down to lunch I received news that tragedy had struck some dear friends. My heart, already weary, broke. And my immediate, instinctive response was an all-consuming need to...bake.
So I spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen baking things...making. I didn't really care about eating what I made; I just hungered after the joy to be found in the process, the restoration and revival found through bringing some order out of chaos. Perhaps the tangible result was only a couple dozen cookies...but those 24 ginger spiced rounds were my small way to just push back some of the sadness -- just a bit -- by creating something good in the way I knew how. Cutting, measuring, melting things that don't seem to belong together, and transforming them, renaming them.
This is why I
love making food. Every meal presents me with an opportunity to
undertake my own small acts of creation, of bringing delicious order out
of the chaos of disparate ingredients. As I do so, I draw upon
techniques and flavor combinations - elements of culinary order - that
were worked out by others long ago. Some other person with a vestige of
the Creator-God in his heart and hands worked out the best way to
fashion steel into a knife blade; or what amounts of flour, water, and
air would produce the best bread; or how long to let a wine mature
before it was ready to be most fully enjoyed. Someone else learned all
these things, and now I get to build upon their knowledge, applying it
to the resources available to me in ways that nourish and delight.
Sometimes I open the cupboard and have no idea if there is any way the
ingredients at hand will come together into something coherent...but facing the
challenge makes me feel so alive. My heart and hands grasp the chance
to exercise the creative instinct nested in me from birth.
"Some days I feel like all I'm doing is holding back chaos." This
was my friend Kristen's weary
description of her job many months ago, but I've thought often that her
words hit on the opportunity presented to us in every human endeavor,
whether "just" a hobby or "just" a menial job. A plate of cookies can't keep all the chaos of the world at bay. But these kitchen afternoons that apply an
overwhelmed heart to the business of ordering remind me that while
life is hard, God is yet good. Good to show us the delight as well as the difficult; good to gift us the buoy -- no, more than a buoy; the countering current -- of creation.
What is the creating, ordering activity in your life?