Ukrainian Kitchen Sanctuaries
Every morning I have a routine. Whether I wake up late, come back from a walk, or it’s a Sunday morning; every day I have a routine of washing any dishes in the sink or loading the dishwasher and wiping down the counters.
Part of my routine is to have a clean kitchen but the other part is because the kitchen is my sanctuary. It’s where I find solace and gratitude.
The kitchen is where I plug my headphones in my ears to listen to podcasts, audible, spa music, or scripture to start my day. It’s how I try to meditate on the day.
I love to cook and even though my husband proudly says that my cooking sometimes (not all the time) is “restaurant quality,” it’s where all my kitchen gadgets are. It’s where my collection of small plates I’ve picked up in other countries or just some flea market are either hung on the wall or stacked in the cupboards that I like to use.
Drinking espresso from a tiny vintage cup, a French farmhouse cup, or using my Turkish cezve to indulge myself in Turkish coffee is a simple joy I have. My kitchen gadgets, collections, tools, and cute tea towels are much more indulging than a garment I’ve ever found to wear out on the town.
I much rather find myself in a cooking store, a teahouse or at a flea market than in any expensive clothing store any day of the week.
My sister and I love to visit a flea market and have tea afterwards.
Just recently, however, I’ve found myself feeling sad almost every day. I find myself imagining how it would feel like for something as simple as the pure joy I find in my tiny kitchen, living in the city, to be taken from me.
I’ve gotten used to hearing the kitchen plates being tossed around in the Indian kitchen across the alley late at night. The cooks sometimes listen to their folk Mexican music which doesn’t bother me in the least. Even the noises of the seagulls, the homeless rummaging through the trash in the early morning hours, or the sirens of the city have also become part of the experience coming from my window.
I can’t imagine this being completely taken away from me as my city was obliterated by bombs.
Century City in the background in my hometown of Los Angeles.
Even though I don’t have children, how many Ukrainian women took great joy in being in their kitchen with their children who they fed every day?
The idea of losing your kitchen, which can be a place of solitude for so many of us, (women or men), is probably the last thing on the minds of refugees as they work through the chore of finding a place to live. However, I can’t imagine what it would feel like when Ukrainian refugees are being fed, or helping to prepare food in another kitchen when they realize they will never spend time in their own kitchen ever again.
It’s a small but heavy feeling to think of the idea of never seeing my home again because it’s more than just losing my home; it would be the loss of my sanctuary.
Ukrainians are losing far more than just their homes; the loss is so deep that only times in my kitchen can I understand what that might be for them. As strong as their spirits are, scripture reminds us: “The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Proverbs 18:14
I have a pair of suitcases that I’ve had for over 20 years. They’re a little beaten but have really stood up over time. They’re a perfect size and one fits in the other one. They’re perfect for travel as you put one inside the other and come back with the smaller one filled. They come with a strap that ties them together to pull them both easily.
I also have a favorite blanket that’s huge and soft. We got it from the solar company when we signed up for it and as big and green as it is, I just love wrapping myself up in it on the couch.
As blankets and old suitcases were requested, I’ve donated both my suitcases and this big green blanket that’s practically brand new with other blankets I’ve had as well as monetary donations to send to Ukrainian refugees.
It’s the smallest of sacrifices and the sharing of things that have given me joy that I can only hope will bring to someone who has lost so much more.
What would be considered your sanctuary? Is it the gym, a place you like to read in your home? Or is it your garden?
Think of what it must feel like to have it completely obliterated by bombs and you might feel just a slight sting of what the Ukrainians must be feeling right now. In some strange way, we can stay connected with the rest of the world simply by empathizing.
It’s why I like to collect small plates I suppose.