Cooking Dinner — An Invitation to Showing Affection

This month on the blog we are embarking on the journey of finding the sacred, intimate, and tender in daily life tasks. This month’s entries will include thoughts, poems, and prayers/meditations around the sacred, intimate, or tender pieces that can be found in daily life tasks.
BY Danae Smith TIMEMarch 9, 2022 PRINT

As I embark on this journey of finding the sacred, intimate, and tender in daily life tasks and responsibilities, I want to be careful to not make this deeper than it needs to be. This isn’t about “unicorns and glitter”-ing everything but seeking out the beauty in a seemingly mundane aspect of life.

There is a novelty to cooking that’s exciting and exhilarating. It’s one of the reasons I really love cooking. When I got married, it was an aspect of marriage I really looked for to. I still enjoy cooking but I’ll be honest, I was starting to see it more as a chore than an invitation. So, when I decided to embark on this journey of finding the sacred, intimate, and tender in daily life, I wanted to start with cooking dinner.

I realize sometimes the step into finding the more in the mundane is to try something new or see it from a different angle. It had been awhile since I’d tried a new recipe. I like to plan out our meals over the course of a month versus day to day or week by week. When I sat down to plan out August, I pulled out cookbooks I owned and searched for recipes that piqued my interest. I marked them, updated our monthly meal calendar, and hung it on the fridge. I could feel myself getting excited again about a piece of daily life that had become chore-like.

The first recipe I landed on was the Chicken Marsala recipe from Cooking for Two. It’s one of my favorite Italian dishes and I’d never tried making it myself before.

I attempted this recipe last Monday. I’ll be honest, I logged out from my workday and I was TIRED. But, I wanted to show up to this journey, so I pulled out the ingredients and the cookbook only to find out I was missing a couple of ingredients. Major face palm. I totally bemoaned slipping on my Birkenstocks and driving to Wegmans but alas, I went and grabbed all that I needed, and then some.

Coming back, I jumped back into the rhythm of preparing dinner. Midway, I realized, I was on autopilot, moving as quickly as possible to get it all done. In that moment, there was no rush and I needed to turn off autopilot. I needed to really give myself permission to be in this moment, to see and encounter the invitation it offered.

How? How did I turn off autopilot and seek out the invitation?

Well, I paused and took a few deep breaths. I asked myself (paraphrase), “what’s the invitation I’m being offered?”. I waited a few moments, then continued. I sliced the chicken breasts and dipped them in flour. I oiled the pans and started heating them. I chopped onions, mushrooms, and garlic, letting the question of what invitation I was being offered linger in and out of my thoughts.

Mid-way through chopping mushrooms and onions, the invitation wiggled its way into existence.

This is an invitation to show affection.

Food is so much more than food. It is a language. It is an art. It is culture. Preparing a meal for someone is a deep showing of affection. It is an opportunity for creativity and taking risks. It’s seriously so many things.

I realized, as I prepared this meal, that I had this opportunity to cook this meal knowing it was a showing of affection towards my husband and even towards myself. I also realized trying something new with this daily life task awakened again my love for it.

Sometimes in our daily life, we move on autopilot. Folding laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning around the house, running errands, and so much more are automatic parts of living life. So yeah, moving on autopilot is natural. Doing it because it needs to be done is expected. That was cooking for me. It wasn’t sparking joy anymore. It was becoming a chore until I 1) tried something new and 2) took a few moments in the process to ask what’s the invitation here? What is sacred, intimate, or tender about this? When I sense the invitation and what made it sacred, intimate, or tender, I leaned in.

There really is more to the mundane than meets eye if we’re willing to seek it out. There is something sacred, intimate, tender and beautiful in the many layers that make up our daily life. Cooking dinner for yourself or your family doesn’t have to just be a thing that needs to be done to survive. It can also be an invitation to something sacred and tender.

At least for me, that’s what I’m learning. Will there days where I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking? Absolutely. Does that mean the invitation isn’t there? Not at all. It’s still there, offering itself to me if I’m willing to grab hold of it. I’ll be honest, the other meals throughout the week didn’t necessarily flow like they did on Monday, but that doesn’t negate that there’s invitation to be offered and accepted in the mundane. It shows that I get to show up for it or not show up for it.

This story was originally published in the, This Wonderful Life Blog.

Danae Smith
Danae Smith is the founder of This Wondrous Life, a lifestyle blog rooted in pursuing a life lived simply, slowly, and with community. She believes there is more to the mundane than meets the eye. You can also find her on Instagram.
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