Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finding Bliss


The stuffed shells were in the oven, the wine chilling, the broccoli chopped and tossed with olive oil and seasonings, and it was time to set the table.  I chose an ivory lace tablecloth and the Old Country Roses china, put together a small autumn themed centerpiece, and slowly created the table setting.  I love the entire process of making a special dinner for friends or family.  From the planning stage when I choose recipes, through the preparation -- the chopping and stirring and roasting -- to the task of turning a bare wood table into a lovely tablescape, I feel pleasure.  Delicious aromas fill the kitchen, appetizers are arranged and placed, and guests are welcomed -- wine is poured into beautiful glasses, and the process has produced an occasion of good food, warmth and good conversation.
I am a "detail" person -- one who receives much pleasure from the planning and execution of a project -- from the process itself.  Yesterday I attended a local craft fair and was reminded of the years when my children were young and I sewed, did needlework, and enjoyed working on various craft projects.  Running the lovely scarves through my fingers yesterday made me long for my knitting needles.  The Christmas wreaths and tree ornaments brought to mind the scent of fresh pine, and the magic worked by my trusty glue gun.  There is a feeling of contentment as we make something beautiful or useful from raw materials. 

The holiday season is all about process.  As we decorate our homes, we take our motley accumulation of seasonal pieces and combine them into something lovely.  My little turkey gravy boat holds the place of honor on my sideboard each autumn, surrounded by burnished leaves and small ceramic pumpkins.  How I enjoy rearranging the items until they are in just the right places -- each small piece a complement to the whole.

Flower arranging is another activity where process is as enjoyable as the final result.  I have filled countless hours through the years working with flowers -- cutting the stems, sinking them into vases of fresh water, and then arranging them into centerpieces for holiday dinners or special parties.  How I love the scents and textures as I combine the flowers and greens.  Nothing can compare to the spring pleasure of voluptuous lilacs -- cutting them from the bushes, holding them in my arms, and then arranging them in a vase, their beautiful blossoms spilling as bountifully as a waterfall. 

The world is filled with people who enjoy the process -- craftsmen and artisans, bread bakers, painters, writers -- those whose work brings not just a sense of satisfaction when it is finished, but also joy along the way.  Throughout the years, I have spent many hours doing work that I did not enjoy -- typing, bookkeeping, transcription, and cleaning.  I have worked in offices where I watched the clock move much too slowly all day.  How sad for many of us that we cannot make a living doing the things that bring us pleasure. But, those of us who find our bliss in these small things are fortunate indeed.  How lovely to find pure pleasure as we knead bread, knit scarves, arrange flowers, light candles or polish silver.  We are blessed.


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