The skill of intentional staring has been made obsolete by our fast-paced society. There is so much new to see that stopping to stare can be an almost frightening experience. After all, we just might miss something novel and viral — the topic of every chat room and all our Facebook friends. Like so many skills from the past, sustained staring will have to be recovered just as slow food, reading aloud, unhurried conversation, and honoring rest as essential to creativity, personhood, and good work are being rediscovered by so many in a generation weary of the empty promises of modernity.
Silence a man’s inner dialogue and take away the filter through which he runs what he chooses to say and what he keeps inside, and what comes out of him will likely fall closer to the truth than to fiction. If this is true, then it is in me to belittle kindness and glare at beauty. It is in me to tell the ones who love me most to go away. It is in me to reject the advances of grace. And it is true. I know it is.
Joy can be found in the most unexpected places. In the hurting (or rejoicing) co-worker down the hall, in the redemption offered by a hard conversation with a friend, and in the painful void that accompanies loneliness. Every day and every season bring a unique composition of light and shadow. Every day and every season offer new opportunities to experience joy.
When visitors come into the well-supplied kitchen of our home, The Art House, with its 60” Wolf range and side-by-side refrigerators, they often rightly ask, “Do you like to cook?” I almost always stumble over a simple yes or no answer. After living most of my adult life feeding hungry people, I am very interested in food and cooking. But the interest has come alongside the necessity. Cooking has been unavoidable, a skill developed with use. Thankfully, I was inspired early on to see the kitchen as a wholly creative and meaningful place to work, so I have leaned into all the need with an imagination formed by those ideas.
Company. Campaign. Champagne. Champion. Companion. Familiar words that sound so alike because they all spring from the same medieval French and Latin roots. “Com” = “with” and “Pan” = “bread.” “Camp” (champ) = “open country or field.” These words are cousins in etymology and function. To be a companion is literally to share bread with someone. To share bread with someone is to keep their good company. To keep their good company is to be their champion. And to be their champion is to be their defender, to walk among them and eat with them.