Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Blessing of Contentment

I have been blessed with a happy spirit. I find joy in the simple pleasures of this life, and I am extremely grateful for this gift.

Our society places great value on material success, and it seems that as we work harder and longer to obtain our desires, we sacrifice happiness and contentment. Unfortunately, by the time many people have finally acquired the perfect house, or car, or piece of jewelry, instead of enjoying it, they quickly turn to the next item on their wish list.

How much happier life is for those of us with simpler needs and desires. This past Sunday was a lovely autumn day – sunshine, blue skies, crisp air, leaves crackling underfoot. After a busy morning, I grabbed my kitchen scissors and enjoyed the invigorating air as I cut bunches of herbs from the garden for drying. I brought them into the kitchen, washed them in cool water, and hung them on a special wire installed over my sink. The kitchen was filled with a pungent mixture of aromas – oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and parsley. This aroma will linger for a few days as the herbs dry, and on the coldest of winter afternoons, as I pinch off some of the shriveled leaves to season a simmering soup or sauce, I will hold the memory of this October afternoon in my heart – a simple memory of a simple pleasure.

Which leads me to another thought – my kitchen. What a sorry sight it is – not a piece of granite countertop in sight, bisque colored appliances instead of stainless steel, and dark cabinets marked by years of use. How I would love to remodel, but at this point, that is an impossible dream. Fortunately, though, I still love this old kitchen of mine. I love the sunny yellow wallpaper border with its blue & white china gracing the wall, and the sight of my pumpkin shaped soup tureen nestled into an autumn arrangement of leaves and grapes is a joy to behold.

Many people would agonize over the condition of this old kitchen, but it still serves its purpose. No one has ever refused to come for dinner because my kitchen is outdated. They come enthusiastically; they sit at the table as I cook, sipping wine and chatting as dinner takes shape. They love my old dining room, with its ancient table set with flowers and lovely china. They savor the food I serve to them. They remember the warmth and the love – the scratched old cabinets don’t bother them a bit.

Sunday afternoon when I walked into the kitchen with several bunches of fresh herbs in my arms, I was greeted by the delicious aroma of well-seasoned pork with potatoes, carrots and onion slowly roasting in the oven. I felt such a tremendous sense of comfort and warmth. At that moment, there was no place I would rather have been. I felt blessed.