Journal

Suffering & Love

We’re spending the morning organizing, cleaning, and reflecting on the High-Alpine Wine/Low-Country Food pop-up dinner last night that was hosted by a friend of ours in a historic Baker Neighborhood home.   When the goodness and connection and company are so abundant, it takes some moments to sort through and apply meaning to all that’s happened in an evening.  Our favorite moments included hearing the raucous laughter coming out of the kitchen from our chef’s counter guests and staff, table-side pours for the Rabbit Cassoulet, and after-dinner conversations with new friends scheming about all the goodness we want to do in this world.  But in our late-night reflecting time after everyone had gone home, we talked about a moment that stood out to us as one of the most meaningful of the evening – the moment we started talking about suffering.

As we were having a dessert course conversation with the dining room table about the development of The Guest House, our current work, and our capital-building & land search, one of our dear friends at the table brought up the concept of suffering.  Its not usually a topic that’s promoted at dinners or even in general culture; often considered a downer in the conversation, we do a lot to avoid bringing this theme up.  And here we were: twelve guests, Joe & Seth, and an exquisite Biscuits & Marshmallow dessert diving head first into the topic. 

Another guest had asked what was important about developing this project in Colorado specifically and we were speaking to the foundational theme of The Guest House being ‘accountability to the land’ – an ethic that asks us to restrict our cuisine to what a specific, local piece of land provides for us.  This restricting of ourselves leads us into places that spur on creativity and allow an identifiable, local cuisine to emerge.  So when our friend brought up suffering, he was speaking to another value that branches out of accountability to the land.  Living in the U.S. in the context of an industrialized, globalized world, has led to an internalization of the idea that we can get whatever we want whenever we want it and that denial and suffering and discipline only serve to obstruct our immediate pleasure.  But the reality of a life lived in accountability to the land is that suffering and discipline are absolutely required as part of the path to creativity, joy, nourishment, and security.  Our friend spoke to the realities we have distanced ourselves from in our food of the suffering of animals in death, and the suffering of plants in the harvest, and the suffering of ourselves in the difficult work of stewarding the land and feeding ourselves from it honestly.  And also the seeming paradox that it is in those sufferings that we find our greatest joys and inspiration in feeding those we love, and building relationships with those animals, and creating food that connects us to memory and to each other.  This kind of suffering isn’t one of martyrdom.  It is one that only can come from the source of love.  A love of our own bodies and worth, a love of the land, a love of other beings who share this land with us, and a love of each other. 

We loved that this was our dessert conversation because it speaks to the space this project is already opening up for all of us to live in more explicit ways with each other and with the land.  We can be fierce in the truth of the reality of our lives and bold in our love for each other, and if we continue to foster the spaces for that truth and love through the practice of hospitality and the cooking of food, then we are already living into the work we have said we will do at The Guest House.

We’re so thankful for all of those who show up at our table to do this work with us. 

seth o'donovan