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Encountering God in the Kitchen

Family and friends are gathering around tables these next few days to share meals and celebrate Christmas. Executive Director Kim Smolik reflects on how she has encountered God while preparing for such occasions.

I love to cook. Although I have had no formal training, it is one of the activities that gives me the greatest pleasure in life. People always ask me where this passion came from and I’ve never really known, but I suspect my grandmother may have had something to do with it.

I enjoy the entire cooking process from start to finish, especially when I am entertaining for a group of friends and loved ones. I start by thinking about who will be present – what do they like, do they have any dietary restrictions, what type of meal or experience do I want to create for them?

Then I launch into menu planning – I dig through my well-worn cookbooks and a few of my favorite cooking blogs. Unlike some people, I equally look forward to venturing out to find all the ingredients—strolling through the farmer’s market, a meat or fish market, cheese shop…

Kim in her cooking element

But there is nothing I like more than entering the kitchen, whole ingredients in hand, ready to begin chopping, sautéing, steaming, roasting, and baking. I am comforted as the sweet carrots, robust onions, and tangy celery bring together a familiar smell that will be the base of my soup stock.

I think about the people who will gather around the table as I stir, taste and add a little more salt. I say a prayer of gratitude that they are in my life and I can show them how much I love them in this small way.

My grandma also loved to feed people. She was born during the Depression and with her two sisters (my Aunties Merle and Marge) was raised by her dad and uncle. Coming from humble beginnings, my grandma went out of her way to make sure that her nine children and 16 grandchildren knew a full belly and the joy of a big family gathering.

My Grandma died 12 years ago, and there is hardly a day that passes that I do not think about her. She especially comes to mind at this time of the year. There was nothing she loved more than Christmas – seeing all of her family together, laughing, sharing, and eating the food that she prepared for them.

This year I encountered God in many moments in the kitchen: in the creative process, in the moments around the table with both friends and strangers, and in the sweet memory of my Grandma who taught me the joy and miracle of baking and breaking bread together.

To support the work of Franciscan Mission Service staff like Kim, please make a gift to us this Christmas.

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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