By. Sister Sharon Havelak
The past couple of weeks have been filled with events just ripe for blogging: the election campaign, the shocking rampage that senselessly left six Sikhs dead from Milwaukee, random shootings in both Minneapolis and Toledo that killed children. The Olympics offered reflection on the opposite end of the spectrum, with stories of athletes competing against all odds; often the victory over disease or poverty was more precious than any medal that could have been won. But the stories that moved me most were more close-to-home. Breath-taking in their simplicity, I found them powerful, totally unexpected and profound.
The past couple of weeks I was on vacation, trying to “turn off” all the “big stuff” for a while. One Minneapolis delight in early August is the Uptown Art Fair, rubbing shoulders with artists and art-lovers, reveling in beauty and talent. One of its secondary attractions is that it doesn’t take much arm-twisting to get my sisters into one of the nearby stores, Penzey’s Spices. We sniff all sorts of exotic herbs and spices, collect recipes and get great ideas for cooking. I also picked up one of their catalogs.I curled up in bed that evening with great anticipation, catalog in hand, ready for the recipes and ideas ahead. What I wasn’t ready for was the editor’s introduction – and certainly not the conclusion!
The opening article was entitled “Kindness Works.” It was a brilliantly simple little piece about the wonder of cooking, the diversity of those who cook and what they cook; more than that, though, was the emphasis on why people cooked: because they cared about those they cooked for and wanted to make their lives better. A brighter future could be built, by the kindness of cooks, one meal at a time.
The following editorial “Heal the World – Cook Dinner Tonight” picked up on the theme. It suggested that cooking works as a tool for healing simply because being nice to others works; we’d all do better if we’d weave the spirit of cooking into our lives. We could do it with the words we choose to use and how we put them together to make others happy. The essay even managed to weave in support for teachers and criticism for a local plan that would undermine schools.
But even that didn’t prepare me for the essay at the end of the catalog. Bill, the editor, writes about how wonderful it is to be located in Tucson (their headquarters), a city of great diversity, attracting many. He also notes that some, “trying to share the goodness they experienced in their own childhood,” are trying to mold Arizona into a single culture – and how we will be poorer for it. He never uses the words immigration reform, but he’s written one of the sweetest calls for inclusion.
That evening, I didn’t expect to be challenged to build a better, more peaceful and just world. But I’m ready to take up Bill’s challenge: “Cook cook cook, rest a while, then cook some more. The world needs it.”