So, I’ve been a little bit in hibernation mode, wanting to curl up in a cave (my bedroom) with the heat turned up high and the curtains closed blocking all light. Who wants to be awake post the Trump election?
Feeling powerless over world events, American politics and all things on a large scale is not exactly a fun feeling. It is, though, an accurate expression of how I am feeling currently. So, I emerge in small scale, with the circles of activity and the ripples being not on a Grand Stage or scale, but in the kitchen, around my hearth.
When I peel and slice ginger thin, lots of it, and sift and sort berries and flowers through my fingers and pour liquid gold honey from a friend’s bee hives, something shifts inside of me. I feel powerful, I feel engaged, I feel hopeful. So, I turn to making magic where I can, which for me has always been the kitchen.
The kitchen though is just the modern version of the hearth center. Let’s be clear hearth and heart are the same thing, just with one extra H added at the end. Let’s talk about that extra H. In Hebrew, the letter Hey would be an ancient link in the chain of language development that eventually gets us to the English letter H.
The Holy One’s four letter name, referred to as the Tetragrammaton, has two Heys in it. Since we cannot speak this name, no longer knowing the magic vowels and sounds connected to it, post the destruction of the second Temple and the services of the High Priest/Kohein, we refer to the Divine in multiple other ways. We reference the Holy One’s qualities, we call the Divine: Rachamim/Merciful/Womblike (the root of this word Rachamim is womb, so mercy is really another way of saying wombful or womblike) , or Melech/King or the one who makes things move; the Holy Mover and Shaker of the Whole Shebang and we use many other descriptors to try and add some kind of flesh to something Wholly Other that is also as close to us as our breath.
So, that letter H, actually has quite a punch to it. It’s a powerful letter and it happens twice in the word hearth and twice in the Hebrew name of the Divine. When the biblical Abram and Sarai become Jewish and embrace that path, they are gifted with the letter hey, in the Torah scroll Hebrew they get one hey each, the spelling of their names actually changes in the scroll. That hey is part of the Holy One’s essence and is gifted/added to their names: Abram-Abraham, Sarai-Sarah. I’m not trying to give a full or in depth essay on the power of letters, but I am trying to give you a hint, like a dash of spice or a pinch of salt.
Everything has the potential to be powerful and transforming. Simple ways of walking, sitting down, drinking a cup of tea or making a lentil soup can have meaning and consequence. How you spell a word, why it is spelled that way, what it means when you stir something with intention as it slowly warms over a flame…
All of it has magic and is magic if you open yourself to the essence of the Divine that is present in every action and moment. Parting the veil of illusion that makes us think we are not part of an immense soup full of stars, galaxies, humans, frogs, music, dew drops, honey bees, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, full moons and bright eyes– all being slowly cooked up at the Holy Hearth. Our story is continuously unfolding as the potion mellows or distills. Sometimes impurities rise to the surface and the foam has to be removed, sometimes one ingredient will make the whole batch off and you have to start over.
When I’m cooking in my kitchen, or talking to the Redwood tree or the flowers growing in the garden, I’m engaging with the elements I bring to whatever I do.
I am not only what is visible, nor is what I do. The same is true for you.
So, I pull in the mystery, the wonder, the fear, the hurt, the confusion and I hope that the essence of sunshine and rain that ripened the elderberry or the lavender or the rose petal, somehow wakes up at my touch or call. I imagine and invoke a prayer that the honey or the ginger or the lentil nourishes those it encounters, not just as a series of peptides and proteins or minerals and vitamins, but as unseen silent messengers from the Creator.
After all, even in this mad, mad, mad world, the sun is still rising, and more intensely, at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, the winds and the rain and snow are falling to create a living stream of nutrients to create a fusion and melding of elements that will nourish the sleeping seeds or awaken the dormant sap that will emerge in the spring to greet and dance with their friends the sun and the birds.
All of that is in every molecule of every drop of everything we consume or drink. The water on this planet is how old? I remember a great moment when Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg held up his glass of water and asked us how old it was? He then reminded us about the water cycle on this planet and how the water actually was ancient, as old as the beginning of the universe. So, then when you take a sip of water, you are taking a sip of the beginning of life. It’s not just a clear liquid. It’s Mayim Chayim (Waters of Life).
So, when I manage to emerge from the cave of blankets I’ve buried myself under, to create something yummy or healing for those I love or those I encounter, I am planting a small seed of intentional Heart/Hearth Love into the bodies of all those who imbibe or consume what I’ve made. I am a co-creator in this, I’m very much the sous-sous-sous-chef. Sous, means under in French. The main head honcho Chef is way beyond where I am, luckily. I am not responsible for this whole thing. Just, my station, my counter, the parsley I’m washing or chopping, the herbs or flowers or berries I’m gathering, the beans I’m soaking and rinsing. That’s all I have to do, in this magic and luminous moment.