Dana Velden

‘To cook a meal for someone is to give them many gifts: the gift of your time and effort and resources; the gift of your regard for their health and well-being; the gift of pleasure and sustenance and a place at the table. You are also giving the gift of your vulnerability: Here, eat this thing that I made just for you. Do you like it? Is it enough? Are you satisfied?

To be a guest is to receive these gifts and return them with your own gifts of presence and gratitude, or appreciation and enjoyment. It may seem like you are doing the bulk of the receiving, but actually all the roles (giver, receiver, and gift, too) are not fixed positions but in a dynamic interplay together, a kind of call and response.

It is nearly impossible to separate the acts of giving and receiving, for when we truly receive something, the very act of receiving is automatically transformed in a gift that’s given back to the giver. And when we are on the giving end, we receive the gift of that response – hopefully, delight and appreciation, but, of course, not always. There is pleasure in giving, and it, too, is part of the gift itself.’ (Finding Yourself In The Kitchen)

It seemed timely and seasonal to post this now, and I appreciate how Dana invokes the ‘three wheels of giver, receiver, and gift’ that we chant ahead of eating oryoki in the zendo.

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