It’s been a year and 2 months since I’ve written on this page…. In that time I have done SO much cooking and have had plenty of adventures outside the kitchen too, but sadly I can’t claim there has been such progress in awakening!
Anyway, strangely, in the last 6 days 6 people have asked me if I am going to start writing again. I’m taking it as a sign, although I still have to contend with my self doubt, which ‘helpfully’ points out that although I’ve learnt an incredible amount in the last 18 months or so, probably I am just catching up on what the rest of the world already knows… Perhaps!! Thank you to the close friends this week who have encourage me to write again regardless.
Cooking is still what I do all day, (or more accurately, I spend most of the day chopping vegetables and washing dishes, but you get the idea.) I have the privilege of working with a great bunch of people, and feeding the flow of guests who come and stay at Aro-Hā, a retreat centre situated in what must be one of the most beautiful settings on planet earth. The above photo of the lupins and Lake Wakatipu was taken from our driveway. For real!
And I still love my job. And I still feed myself poetry – this one by Patrick Donnelly paints a picture for you of my life, better than I could describe it. Seemingly it’s easy to get pulled away from prayers when there’s cooking to be done….
When the heavens and the earth
are snapped away like a painted shade,
and every creature called to account,
please forgive me my head
full of chickpeas, garlic and parsley.
I am in love with the lemon
on the counter, and the warmth
of my brother’s shoulder distracted me
when we stood to pray.
The imam takes us over
for the first prostration,
but I keep one ear cocked
for the cry of the kitchen timer,
thrilled to realize today’s cornbread
might become tomorrow’s stuffing.
This thrift may buy me ten warm minutes
in bed tomorrow, before the singer
climbs the minaret in the dark
to wake me again to the work
of thought, word, deed.
I have so little time to finish;
only I know how to turn the dish, so the first taste
makes my brother’s eyes open wide–
forgive me, this pleasure
seems more urgent than the prayer–
too late to take refuge in You
from the inextricable mischief
of every thing You made,
eggs, milk, cinnamon, kisses, sleep.
In the last year, I have found support and inspiration from various people and resources, so thought I would keep this post on the succinct side and just share this highlights reel.
- In the flesh, I have spent time this year with exceptional dharma teachers Sharda Rogell, Jeremy Logan and Cynthia Bourgeault. Soon I am off on retreat with the Zen priest Edward Espe Brown. These people are islands of sanity in a crazy world. Thank goodness for them, and others like them!
- Ottolenghi is still my number one cooking guru. Buy any of his books, follow his webpage / instagram, and you won’t regret it. Endless veggie centric dishes, all absolutely bursting with flavour and visually stunning too.
- Glo – offering online yoga classes led by some of the world’s most loved teachers. I haven’t been able to find time to join a regular class in this part of the world, so being a Glo subscriber has been a life line. Seriously worth every penny!
- Insight Timer – an app for your phone, offering at the most basic level a bell which sounds at the end of your silent sit, through to guided meditations and dharma courses.
- Gratefulness.org. Just sign up for their newsletter. Seriously, just do it. All the reasons, and all the encouragement to practise gratitude. Start by watching this Ted Talk featuring Brother David Steindl-Rast who contributes to the site, to get a feeling of what this group offer and why it will change your life.
- Being in nature! I have spent way more time outdoors this year. In the mountains, on the beach, in the ocean, and on the lake in my kayak. Walking the famous Routeburn Track, repeatedly voted in one of the worlds top 10 hikes, was a highlight of my entire time living in NZ!
Thanks for reading. If you feel like leaving a comment on what you might like me to talk about in (possibly!) more regular posts, then I’d always love to get feedback. Take care friends!