The angel is in the details

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This weekend I stayed with my friends Daryl and Deborah in Brooklyn. On Saturday night they gave me the gift of a meal. And believe me, when Daryl and Deborah cook for you, it’s a gift.

Watching them work together in the kitchen was beautiful. First, it’s obvious how much they love one another and how much joy they take in preparing meals together. The whole process of cooking was like a partly choreographed, partly improvised dance. One person moving to the island in the middle of the kitchen to chop or read a recipe as the other moves to the stove to stir or add a bit of spice. One getting a bowl from the cabinet as the other pulls leaves off a stem. It was like watching a ballet where the story was being written by the dancers right there in the moment.

But what struck me even more was their attention to detail. Every part of the cooking process – deciding what to make and which dishes would go together, preparing the ingredients, cooking those ingredients, choosing the right serving containers and utensils – was carefully thought out, discussed, and agreed upon. There was a moment when Daryl and Deborah were picking exactly the right spoon for serving the chana dal, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of the love and joy and care that they put into meals and into taking care of their guests.

I’ve always appreciated people who care about the tiny details. Knowing the names of all the parts of a machine or the parts of speech or the intricacies of a piece of music. I once dated someone who said she only dated nerds, in other words, people who had at least one thing in which they were deeply interested. I still think that’s sound advice. Watching my friends cook brought that home. (Of course, the beautiful thing about D&D is that they bring that same level of passion and attention to many other things in addition to cooking.)

Being with Daryl and Deborah is inspiring in many ways. They’re a living lesson in mindfulness. I’m going to pay more attention to what they’re teaching.

POEM: chana masala

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chana masala

over chana masala and nan
we fixed all the world’s problems
or at least convinced ourselves
that the grass was indeed greener
in other places we’d lived

when I got home I put on the record
I’ve been listening to again and again
funny how a voice can work its way
inside me, open all the doors
slip past every defense

lately I’ve been wondering
whether it’s possible to fall in love
with a voice alone
a series of organized sounds
standing in for touch and sight

as the next song starts
I think yes, it’s more than possible
and for the first time in years
I draw a hot bath, grab a book
and sink down into the future

26 July 2013
Auburn AL