I’m cooking for a group on retreat at the Osage Forest of Peace, it’s a small centering prayer group and they will be with us the whole week. It’s a silent retreat which I love! No small talk or unnecessary jabber and noise. Just nine people focused on their practice. Silence is the most beautiful thing sometimes. The chapel is not far from the kitchen so I try to work as quietly as I can. Opening and closing cupboard doors, chopping, sautéing, washing pots and pans. It makes me aware of my every move. That awareness in itself is a practice. Taking time to lie my knife on the board softly, opening the drawers more carefully turning the water on and off with care and thought is simply a dance. Every move becomes intentional.
I’ve been cooking for so long I can switch to auto pilot in an instant, even if I’m cooking for a group of forty or fifty. It just comes so naturally, but I have come to realize that I miss the whole thing, the beauty of creating a dance, a gift, an offering. When I’m on auto pilot generally I’m light years away. But here and at the farm I like being present. I like being awake. I’m not trying to get through it or waiting for it to end, I’m happy being, as being is arriving constantly to my destination.
I am enjoying my time at the forest. I enjoy the silence and the culture of a contemplative life. The community and guests that live there bring me much happiness. Sister Maryanne is just about the sweetest individual I have ever known. Sister Jane makes me think and laugh at the same time. I value this sacred space that honors all spiritual and religious beliefs and strives to be a place of peace in between the blurry lines of dogma and politics. The wealth of books stacked floor to ceiling, from Hindu, to saints, onto books of plants and nature. Nurturing all aspects of how we understand the divine. I feel completely at home.
So, as Linda begins the difficult task of planning a funeral with her brothers, I pour myself into cooking, hoping to nourish and help support those working on their own tasks of expanding and broadening their lives through the pin hole focus of practice. Within this I find my own practice, and my capacity to love and support all that I come into contact with deepens, broadens and grows. I wish for Linda to find calm within this storm as the up-coming arrival of family and friends begins. I wish for her to hear love and virtue in every voice and I wish for her loving kindness in all aspects of these days.