A few weeks ago, Oct. 19th to be exact, the NCTA hosted the National Day on Writing. This year’s topic was “What I Write”. Simple. I write about food and gardening. However, as I tried to form a post about what I write, I found the why I write question kept butting into the essay. As hard as I tried to just write about the what, I couldn’t do it. So, I finally gave in, conducted a self-interview, and wrote about the what as it connects to the why. It was one of those clarifying/cleansing exercises in a writer’s life. After much thought, I’ve decided to post it. It’s a different side of me then my usual light and whimsical posts, but life is more serious these days, and I think it’s important to know what truly drives a writer. So, forgive me as I take a momentary dive into the deeper part of me….I’ll resurface in just a few days with a more regularly scheduled post on onions….yep, onions. But, until then….
I write to explore the relationships between flavor and fragrance; garden and kitchen; grower, preparer, and eater, but mostly I write to discover a deeper relationship between the Creator, myself and my soulful hunger. I’m quick to clarify that writing is just one of the many ways I use to explore these areas. I also read, draw, paint, photograph, cook, garden, pray, discuss, etc…..it is a multifaceted list. I easily fit into the world of those who believe in lifelong learning and that most true learning happens in the lab of life and creative expression of that life.
So then, why do I write? Writing is the synthesizing process of all that I learn. It allows me to make concrete all that I am learning as well as shows me all that I have left to learn. It is exhilarating and humbling. In my brightest hours it is me at my best, albeit in my darkest hours, me at my worst. Writing, as with many other modes of expression, is a double-edged sword. It is a discipline to which I have thrown my hands up in despair, only to return to in a quieter, more reflective spirit, discovering great fulfillment and joy. Writing can lead me to the intellectual tower of education where facts are king, grammar is queen, and defense is the prince charming who truly runs the kingdom. Writing can also lead me to that unadulterated place where vulnerability presides and transparency of heart is treasured. I am never bored with writing, although sometimes my writing is boring. I’ve been writing privately and publicly since I was young, yet writing is something I will never master. It provides a context for continual improvement and requires a discipline of mind, body and spirit. Writing is the clarifying activity that stops me and makes me ask the questions, “Is this what I really think? Is this what I would do? Is this the path I want to go down?” The answers to those questions then propel me forward to create the life I am intended to create.
So why then do I write about food and gardening? In this hectic world cooking and gardening slow us down. These pauses allow us to reflect upon what God has made, connecting us to ourselves, others, and the physical world around us. These connections fill our soul with flavor, fragrance and texture, reminding us that our Creator has a presence in this world and ultimately is the One in control.
Who is this Creator and what philosophy undergirds my writing? I named my blog More Than Oregano because when I started cooking, oregano was the only spice in my cabinet. Fortunately, I’ve grown in my ability to flavor dishes, and my pantry now boasts a variety of herbs and spices. Over the years I’ve spent many hours dishing and dashing with seasonings, but still love the moment of learning something new. I recently discovered that the word ‘oregano’ is derived from two Greek words which together mean joy-of-the-mountain. In Greece, during the summer, oregano covers the hillsides in abandon as its savory fragrance fills the air. I like this picture. It reminds me of the freedom I’ve gained through my Creator, God, and the saving grace offered to me through the abundant love of Jesus Christ and His Spirit. How His fragrance permeates the air, if I only will take a moment to stop and breathe it in. He loves me and always will, even as incredibly imperfect as I am.
I’ve also learned that oregano and the closely related herb, marjoram, are complex. While some argue that they are of the same botanical origin, others think not. Oregano is a seasoning that causes discussion and debate, even though many freely take part in its flavor and fragrance. I like that as well. Not because I’m a good debater, but because even though I know Christ is my Savior, sometimes, like the oregano/marjoram family, He is complex in nature. His seasoning in my life ranges from one that gently and lovingly enhances many of my life experiences to one that is much stronger, more savory, and extraordinarily powerful. That is what continually draws me in. If I could thoroughly and without questioning understand who He is, complacency would set it. If I could comprehend Him so simply, there just wouldn’t be a lot to explore or discover. He knows I need more. So while More Than Oregano is most directly about food and gardening, it is rooted in a belief based upon the love of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. They are the true spice of life.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal precession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NIV)
I want to thank all the readers of More Than Oregano. I sincerely appreciate your support. Next week I’ll begin me exploration of onions in a series of posts called: Onion Appeal: A Primer on Flavor & Technique. I promise it won’t be a tearjerker!