My inspiration for patience actually came from thinking about how some foods require patience in making them. My wife, who does not cook, discovered once that it takes patience to make something as simple as a quesadilla. Until she had to make one for herself, she did not realize how I patiently waited for each side to be the perfect level of “doneness” for her. Quesadillas are not the only food that requires patience in its preparation. When I am making my own gravlax, I have to patiently wait for three days while it undergoes it’s transformation in the refrigerator.
Last week, I began thinking about some of the foods we grew up eating. Growing up in a Jewish household, many of the foods people get in Jewish delicatessens today are things I used to make at home with my mother. She would patiently sit with me and teach me how to make foods such as gefilte fish, kugels, kishka, kasha, halvah, rugelach, chicken soup with matzo balls, cabbage rolls, and so much more. However, there was one thing my mother never taught me how to make and I wish she had – pastrami. Instead, every few months we would take the subway to New York City and take a family trip to Katz’s delicatessen. There we would buy pounds of food to bring home. To fuel us up on the way home, my parents would always treat us to corned beef or pastrami sandwiches. Pastrami was always my favorite.
Growing up I thought pastrami was just another cut of meat. I had no idea all that went into making one’s own pastrami. If you have never had pastrami, it is one of those meats, that when properly prepared, melts in your mouth and has a smoky, spicy taste to it. Maybe one of the reasons my mother never made it is that it takes 4-5 days from start to finish. Making pastrami requires time and patience. You can’t just say I want a pastrami sandwich and five minutes later it is in front of you. Pastrami requires patience as you wait for it to brine, cure, and smoke. It is brined for 2-3 days, then cured for a day and then finally smoked to its juicy perfection.
Patience is also one of the qualities of love. As 1st Corinthians 13 reminds us, Love is patient. Preparing foods, which require patience, is about infusing that which we are preparing with love.
Patience is about remembering that our time is very different from the time line of the Ultimate Consciousness. What is meant to be in our lives will come into being, at the right time and season in our lives. However, sometimes we have to go through our own process of being brined, cured, and smoked to perfection before we are ready for the next phase of our journey.
Some foods require us to be patient longer then others. For example, when making a quesadilla, I have to wait patiently for the pan to preheat and then for a few minutes on each side while the tortilla becomes crispy and the cheese melts. Making gravlax requires me to be patient for 2-3 days while the salmon brines. Pastrami, on the other hand, requires even greater patience as I work with it through three different processes. Isn’t this true about life in general? Sometimes being mindfully patient is easier then others. Sometimes we have to be patient as we move through a single experience or interaction in our life and sometimes we have to be patient as we move through a collection of experiences (brine, cure, and smoke).
Patience is the other side of frustration. When we are frustrated, then we are allowing our anger not our love rule our lives and interactions. When we are intentional about acting from a space of love, then we are able to move with patience through all things life brings us, whether it be something simple (quesadilla) or complex (pastrami). So what ever you have “cooking” up in your life, may you call upon the gift of patience.