The Beauty of Soup and Story

I woke up one morning this week with a specific felt need for vitamins and protein. Okay, Coffee too…first…and then vitamins and protein. In the fridge, there was still some carrot-squash-apple-lentil soup from a recently thawed batch. Huh. Why not? It had everything going for it—already made, super tasty, spicy and sweet, and packed with what my body was craving. So what that it was soup? Put it in a bowl, there’s lunch or dinner. Put it in a mug, suddenly, breakfast is served. Nothing fancy—just densely pleasurable and nourishing.

Recently, I had a post on Facebook about the book I’d just started, The Overstory by Richard Powers. Wow. It is just 7:15 AM and I feel like I’ve been nourished for a week. The writing…augh…The Writing…. As I have gone further in the book, I find that I keep using food to describe it. Weighty and concentrated..like the best sort of chocolate cake can be. Take in a little and then just pause while your senses steep in it…enjoy the layers of flavour, the harmonies and the intentional variations…and that little bit has the goodness of the whole within it. You can feel the pleasure of a story well and smoothly told…

Yes, this particular book won the 2019 Pulitzer…however, plenty of books about which I could say a similar thing have not been on such rarefied lists. And some that have made those hallowed ranks are beyond me. They are seemingly so intentionally complex or obtuse that the pleasures of delight and appreciation are out of my reach. In a related way, there is food served in some restaurants where the experience of it is measured by or equated with money and exclusivity and there are scrambled eggs done to perfection with feta, red peppers, sausage, and onion with hash browns on the side, served up for supper at the table of a friend and her family.

Nourishment of mind, body, and senses goes beyond sating our hunger. I think it’s also about the pleasures that come through our senses, what we feed ourselves and others. And also, taking the time to not only notice them but also to delight. And, believing that All are worthy of that delight, as well; that we are each capable of sharing that delight with others and that the exchange can be as enriching as the initial experience.

Do we believe that what is needed to achieve that delight can be as simple as broth, an onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, squash, and an apple? Or, a plum at the peak of its ripeness? Can we hear the linguistic sculpture of rhythms and word-choice that shapes the message in music?

Do we speak of the beauty we notice and the comfort or consolation it brings? Whatever that beauty might be for each of us—a famous work of art, a well rendered tattoo, the sound of a word, the arc of a gull’s body when choosing to fly into the wind just for fun, a person who has become free enough to live their truth. Maybe it’s the texture of a certain cloth or the gently soapy poof of dryer-smell when walking by an apartment building. Perhaps it’s the overlap of bare branches against a winter-blue sky.

Maybe it is the look in an eye, or the soft warm weight of a hand that scatters light through the prism of love, leaving all in its path bathed, glowing, and ready for new growth…

It seems to me, perhaps especially so in our precarious world of today, that taking time to tend to beauty is no more a luxury than meeting other needs…. To tend to it, to honour it, and to be people unafraid of joy and the delight of our senses….the experience of it in simple things, the sharing of it with others.

I don’t mean this at the expense of the realities that are difficult, devastating, and need our utmost attention, but rather as kindling for maintaining the home-fire.

Soup’s on, there’s plenty… Bring a story to pass?

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