This past weekend I spent four days preparing food for 18 beautiful women on the south end of Whidbey Island here in the Pacific Northwest.
Each morning I gave a silent prayer to the land, thanking her for the bounty that she offered.
I would then go into the kitchen after everyone had left for the day. I would turn on a little music and sing my way through lunch preparation. I remember someone asking me if I was able to get any downtime. I realized that this was my downtime. Buzzing away in the kitchen is where I wanted to be — there, or in the gardens gathering food.
The kitchen was beautiful, with expansive windows overlooking the gardens, and a skylight that provided extra light.
It was truly amazing!
I tackled the blackberry bushes the first day and picked nearly a gallon of berries to make Blackberry Sonker from this book.
Even though I was there to work, I was truly in my bliss.
I have been feeding people for years. I love good food and believe that not only is food a culinary experience, it’s a spiritual one. Eating food directly from the land brings you closer to it, and therefore closer to the devas, the spirits of the land. Knowing where and how your food comes to your table is essential. But for some people, just knowing and trusting the person who is feeding you is enough.
I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed by the praise I received from the women who were feasting on my food. It was a struggle for me to receive it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but that I am just not used to the overflowing love I felt from this group. It made my heart just burst wide open, and I wanted to cry.
I was able to serve them in a way that I wish to be served. One woman told me that she was deeply grateful because she didn’t have to worry about the quality of the food she was eating. She knew that my ethics were as high as hers, and it made it easier for her to relax and enjoy her stay. Another woman said that she had written in her journal about the food.
Yet another woman said: “I knew the food would be good, but I didn’t know it would be inspiring!”
One evening dinner ran a bit late but the women were so fabulous, not a one complained. Instead they broke out some wine and had happy hour. As I was feeling a little frantic myself, I could hear laughter in bursts coming from the other room. I knew that all was well, and that they had been given time to connect on a level that they had not yet been able to do.
By the time the retreat was over, I knew: This is the work I am meant to do. It is my soul’s work.
Photos taken by Joanna Powell Colbert
It feeds me to feed you!