“There is a prevailing theory that we need to know much more than we do in order to feed ourselves well. It isn’t true.
Most of us already have water, a pot to put it in, and a way to light a fire.
This gives us boiling water, in which we can do more good cooking than we know.”
-Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal
These words from Tamar Adler’s book crept into my heart last year. She perfectly describes the humility of boiling a pot of water to prepare a meal… any meal, from plain boiled potatoes to creamy lobster pasta. Just boil water. Start there. The result will be divine, no matter what.
I’ve carried that sentiment around for the past year, sometimes (more often than not) setting aside the beautiful simplicity of boiling water for things like Chocolate Orange and Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls.
I suppose it took some time for Tamar’s words to settle into my system, but I’m thankful they did. Today I learned what it really means to boil water from a little girl named Kevin, and her sister Christine.
Kevin is a serious little girl. She makes you work hard for the telltale signs of childish joy that I’m used to seeing in nine year olds. Her heart is heavy. Her mother is mentally ill and frequently abandons her. Stability hasn’t been a constant for her and that burden sometimes trumps her the joy inside. It’s there though… oh, it’s in there.
Kevin’s sister Christine is one of my favorite kinds of people: she’s quick to laugh and has the most beautiful smile. She’s a natural caretaker. You can see it in the way she glides from hut to hut sweeping up, washing up, cooking up, and adoring her husband, son, and sister. She’s effortless, easy, and has a graceful heart full of kindness.
I remember visiting Tracy‘s house last November for Thanksgiving. Tracy is the spot of welcome and calm when festivities pulse around her. I found that same peace a continent away in Christine. That grace is universal.
How much grace do you need to boil water? Well…. a lot. It’s a journey that starts with an empty castor oil jug, a long walk, a mud stove, and ends in a cup of tea and cookies. It’s more than a hike for hot water and cookies, it’s about a beautiful and loving life.
I have to tell you about this.