I was hosting lunch for friends after church the next day. As often happens, I wait until the last minute to put things together. So at 9:15 p.m., I started browning ground beef. Spaghetti was on the stove boiling its way to al dente. I bent over the open dishwasher loading dishes, creating order from kitchen chaos when I thought of the recent Wizard of Oz performance I'd attended.
Since I was born and raised in Kansas, I've always felt that I should like the Wizard of Oz story more than I have. Watching it as a child, I remember two things: it was a long movie and the flying monkees were scary. However, something clicked when I watched the production in the outside Muny amphitheatre in Forest Park a few weeks ago. The worries of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion seemed poignant in a way I hadn't noticed before. I could relate to their search for qualities that would strengthen their ability to make their journeys through life. Particularly the Lion's need for courage. I heard the lyrics of Somewhere Over the Rainbow differently than any other time. It speaks of having dreams and aspirations--something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. It also addresses the quality of having not quite attained those things, but also believing that those big dreams are possible. It's a song about liminality--an in-between time and space with which I have grown more familiar and even comfortable. Not something an elementary school ager would have picked up on.
As I moved quietly around my kitchen, it dawned on me that this feeling of peace and joy and wholeness I feel when I prepare food is becoming less novel. I feel those things more often than not. I even find myself drawn to the kitchen when I need to find calm and peace. I have for so many years been convinced that I was a klutz in the kitchen. That I was a failure. That I didn't have anything to contribute. This is simply no longer true. I was in the midst of preparing a meal to feed a table of beloved souls, and I knew I was up for the challenge. I also felt exquisite joy having food, a table, and a home in which to welcome these people.
That's when I remembered what the Good Witch Glenda had said to Dorothy: "You've always had it, my dear." Bent over the dishwasher, I realized Glenda's words were for me too. The problem in the past wasn't my inability to function in the kitchen. It was the inaccurate story I told myself with insignificant anecdotes to back up my claim. Just like Dorothy, I had to find out for myself through trial and error that loving people through creations in the kitchen was, indeed, something I am capable of.
It's still so new I keep writing about it, but I bet I won't be writing about it much longer.
Life imitating art is just the best. So is the sacred in the ordinary.
Spaghetti Bake (as seen on Facebook)
Combine one block of cream cheese, garlic salt, and italian seasoning with cooked spaghetti.
Brown 1lb. ground beef, pour in a jar of spaghetti sauce. Stir mixture.
Pour a portion of the meat and sauce into a greased casserole dish. Pour spaghetti concoction on top of meat and sauce. Pour remaining meat and sauce over pasta. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle shredded cheese of choice (or what's on hand) on the dish for the last 5 minutes.
Add to your dinner rotation. It is so easy and de-lish-ous.