Movement makes richest sense when set within a frame of stillness. Pico Ayer
I love a big meal, a meal created with fresh local ingredients and set before me when I’m really hungry. I want to feast on such a meal. I want to eat with gusto, all of it, the food, the atmosphere, the deep sense of appreciation. I love a big meal and I love the big meal of my life that contains such a meal. And how do I take it in — this meal with its wide variety of tantalizing flavors, its many courses?!? How do I take it in, this life that is full to the brim with possibility and spilling over?!?
How do I take it in, a Joy Center that offers taste after taste worth sampling, night after night, yoga and poetry and chocolate workshops and presentations on beekeeping and meditation and dancing and drumming and art and book release parties and potluck movie evenings?!? How do I savor all of those flavors, and balance them with the other flavors, those trips that call me to the west and the ones that call me to the east?!? How do I take it in, the bounty of family in Idaho, two sons and their families in the same charming town and grandchildren that bring the desert to any meal, a grandson who is my best friend, because, of course, a grandson would be a best friend and then there’s the granddaughter who will be born in August, a cousin to my almost-three-year-old best friend grandson, and of course, she is my best friend, too. And how does a person eat that much desert?!? And then there’s Maine with its sea breezes and its salt-filled air and the cousins and siblings and an aunt and an uncle and friendships that run deep and the roots that I stand on. It is a course worth devouring, this eastward pull. And I want it all, this big brimming meal of a life. I want it all — and I want to enjoy every delicious morsel.
It was on a plane this past month, carrying me home from one of those westward trips to Idaho, that I read in Delta’s Sky magazine a quote that I copied in my daily journal: “Slow down so happiness can catch up!” Of course, that’s it! That’s the key to savoring any meal. Who wants to rush through this moment’s course when it can offer so much pleasure? Who wants to gobble when it’s so much more fun to taste what is in your mouth? It’s the meals that stretch on and on that I relish the most, the ones where a candle sits in the middle of the table and the flowers are freshly-cut and the company is loving and there is a presence that is palpable and the food has been prepared with a mindfulness that can be tasted. I love such a meal. I love the pause between courses, the lingering over desert, the deep breath that commits the experience to body-mind-soul memory. And that’s what I want to do, to pause, to appreciate the feast at my table, to take it in, the bigness of it, to digest it fully in every cell of my body, every fiber of my being.
Because it is all so good — this meal, this living. Two weeks ago, the sun broke through the clouds at dusk and glistened on the river’s rocks and the water rushed with the force of spring and an eagle flew right into that light and we watched from our restaurant table, my friend Muriel and I, as its tail lit up, as it circled in front of us, as we savored our food. It is all so good, these weekends in Maine with friends like Muriel, and these times out west, too. Easter Sunday, I placed my hand on my daughter-in-law’s belly, leaned in close and said hello to Baby Girl. And later, I climbed in the Grandma bed, even though it was mid-day and no one was ready for a nap, climbed right under the covers, because my best friend grandson insisted we do so, that we take off shoes and socks and snuggle and read our books on road work and dictionary words. I love this boy with heart and soul! And why would I want to rush through any of this?!? And why would I want to push a course away either? The poetry readings at Joy Center these past few months have set my senses flying and have nourished me deeply. Truly, all of the offerings at Joy Center are deeply nourishing and my home life is hearty healthy food.
So here’s to the feast! Here’s to the feast that is present for us all, in the foods that we eat, and in the lives that we live. And it’s here in the pause too, in the slowing down like I’m doing right now — slowing down enough to remember how good it all tastes. Happy spring!