Back home in London, after traveling through five states for a book tour in the US, I stand in the kitchen and gaze through the window, watching pedestrians wrap arms around waists. Attempting to harness warmth that a brisk wind violates, their boots and wool coats reveal any hope of a lingering autumn.
Staring at strangers out the window as wine sauce reduces on the stove is required mental work for making sense of what seems a senseless election year of sensory overload.
The whir of the mixer, the ting of the timer, chocolate melting in the oven, the aroma of beef stew simmering in the oven—it all seems like a holy union, as if the act of cooking is saving me from wintering somehow.
Rhythms provide anchoring during seasons of transition. And along with rhythms comes the manna of ruminating practices—those simple actions that miraculously calm the hurricane of internal processing so we can rest well.
Cooking has turned out to be one of the ruminating practices that help me trudge through questions breezing wildly through my head. While chopping carrots, kneading bread, and making cookie dough, all the things I’m unsure about become settled and contained.
Ruminating allows your mind to drift away from the detritus long enough for swirling thoughts to settle with different perspective. Peace and clarity are often the result.
After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he used words to create imagery of abundance, blessing, and fruitfulness when he was speaking of God fulfilling his promise. He appealed to their felt needs with sensory overload, using words that describe; wait for it—food.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. Deuteronomy 8:6–9 NLT
Being drawn to cook when my mind is in a state of unrest is now a revelation instead of an oddity. When we are in seasons of life that don’t make sense, when God seems to have turned around and walked down the street, our heart longs for a glimmer of the Promised Land. And cooking is one small step toward eternity.
For some, pulling weeds in the garden is a ruminating practice that allows time to think, assign meaning, and obtain focus. For others, knitting, painting, or a jog around a park brings peace and clear-headed thinking.
When we struggle with a lack of inner quiet or find sitting still a miraculous feat, consistently adding a ruminating practice to a Sabbath rhythm can mean peace—and the truth—will come to mind, spirit, and soul more quickly.Rest is not a recipe with five easy steps, but a reorientation toward what makes me hungry in the first place. We must rest in order for him to rise within us.
Ruminating overrides my bent to quench thirst for outcomes with my own remedies.
The mysterious flavor that satiates a hunger for the meaning of life is what draws me back to the kitchen to create food for my family.
I cannot explain how cooking cures lassitude and why I cook with my shoes off. But I do know that the mystery is why I’m drawn to wait on God instead of hustling for preferred outcomes.
We touch, smell, taste, hear, and see heaven in small daily increments. In olive oil and garlic simmering in the skillet, in honey dripping off fresh bread, a cool drink of water on a hot day—these are all reminders of God’s faithful presence with us.
He keeps his promises.
Ruminate and allow Truth to save your soul from wintering after an election year.
What is your ruminating practice of choice?
GraceTable is 2 years old this month and we’re celebrating with a few giveaways. Leave a comment below to enter to win one of THREE copies of Shelly Miller’s brand new book, Rhythms of Rest, courtesy of Bethany House Publisher. (U.S. residents only, with apologies to our international friends.) You can find Shelly’s book everywhere books are sold.