Making DinnerBlog / Produced by The High Calling
I have been making dinner for my family since I was ten years old, only back then I made it for my sister and my parents, and now I make it for my husband and our kids.
Thirty years of daily dinner-making is 11,000 meals. Sometimes, the dailiness of this habit feels like a burden, or even a curse—the way the quotidian often does. Some days, I think I will scream if I have to do it again. Some days, I ask my own ten year old if he’ll make dinner because I. just. can’t. But mostly, if it’s nearly 5:00, you will find me in the kitchen chopping vegetables or browning meat or both. And mostly, even when it feels burdensome, I know this habit is a gift.
Reminders of Earth, and Dependence
I live in a big city and am therefore largely divorced from the earth, but when I peel a dirt-coated carrot, I am reminded of the dust from which I come and to which I will return. I am highly independent and self-reliant, but browning meat reminds me that my life is dependent on the life of another—in this case, a cow, which gave its life that my family and I might eat and live.
I am highly cerebral and spend most of my life in the realm of the intellect, but chopping an onion returns me to my body: I must attend to the movement of the knife in my hands so that I do not slice myself; the onion’s acids make my eyes water and my nose drip; the sizzle of raw onions hitting hot oil in the pan is music to my ears; and the aroma of caramelizing onions tantalizes me with the promise of good tastes to come.
A Living Sacrifice
But making dinner for my family is so much more than a reminder of my connection to the earth, my dependence on others, and my incarnate life. It is also an opportunity for me to practice giving my body as a living sacrifice as Paul exhorts in Romans 12.
I am a writer, but my words reach very few people. I do not have the influence I would like to have—the influence that other writers have and (let’s face the ugly truth) that I sometimes feel I deserve. Other times, when I cannot wrestle the ideas in my mind onto words on the page, and I feel my intellect has failed me, that words have failed me, I despair over my own deficiencies and wonder that I have any influence at all.
And then I have to make dinner. I go to the kitchen. I peel an onion. I chop garlic. I make a meal for my family. It is such a small thing, a daily thing. It feels, often, like nothing. It is not nothing. It is the living sacrifice of my body on the altar of love. And every single day I get to make this sacrifice. I get to set aside what I want and instead attend to the needs of others, to feed them good food, prepared with my own two hands.
It is not the gift I want to give, of course. Most days I’d rather write a best-selling book and provide for my family that way. But for now (and perhaps for ever) that is not the life I’ve been given. I can rant and rage and envy people with more influence than I. Or I can accept with gratitude the life that I have and offer willingly what I have to give in this time and this place.
I can make dinner.