Theology of the Kitchen: The Heart of the Home

How can we create in our own kitchen spaces a reprieve where we, and all who enter, can come to drink from the well?

Bridget McCartney Nohara enjoys time in the kitchen with her family.
Bridget McCartney Nohara enjoys time in the kitchen with her family. (photo: Bridget McCartney Nohara photos)

It seems that, regardless of the size or layout of a home, we often end up in the kitchen. I am captivated by the idea that this room often feels the warmest and most inviting. I relish the notion that the Holy Spirit dwells richly here.

Kitchen counters and clinking glasses serve as the gateway to hearty conversation and easy laughter. Gathered around a spread of snacks, we are naturally unified. As we are fed, we experience multidimensional renewal.

Conversely, the kitchen may also be a place of exhaustion, fatigue or inadequacy. 

How can we create in our own kitchen spaces a reprieve where we, and all who enter, can come to drink from the well?

 

Offering

The surest way I know to liven up a space is inviting the Holy Spirit. 

The kitchen is no exception.

You may easily find the Lord in a stack of spiritual books, in the rhythm of the Rosary, or in the weighty swell of the Doxology during Mass.

But what about in the stack of dirty dishes, the rhythm of mopping or the requests of hungry stomachs?

This may seem less natural, or at least less glorious. But St. Teresa of Avila would remind us:

“God walks among the pots and the pans.” 

And I believe her.

There is something deeply human about the work of our hands, particularly in the kitchen. It isn’t all Instagram-worthy creations and charcuterie. From stirring sauces to sweeping floors, the work is often less than glamorous.

But I find, in both the former and the latter, the Advocate is ready and willing to enter. As he comes to the kitchen with his gentle peace and fiery passion, I have the confidence to rest, knowing he will fill the spaces I cannot.

 

Simplicity

I spend many hours at my sink, so I’ve chosen to consecrate this area to him, making it a small upper room for my own heart. It has become a place I come to meet him, or, rather, he comes to meet me.

By intentionally framing a favorite prayer above my sink and keeping a candle and a small vase of fresh flowers on the ledge, I am reminded that this, too, is holy work. 

As I feel an urge to rush, I am nudged by these simple reminders to take on a posture of receptivity. Practicing this, I become more ready to receive all who pass through my kitchen, more open to joyful interruptions.

 

Deeply Human

I think the Lord loves to express himself through our senses. 

 In the kitchen, our senses are engaged.

Chopping herbs, we feel the soft, rough or velvety leaves run through our fingers. As something delicious bakes, we are engulfed in the fragrance. The fruit tray boasts a visual masterpiece, displaying colors, textures and shapes so magnificent an artist could never fully capture. We listen for the sound of bubbles rushing to the surface in a pot of hot water. And, finally, we lift the fork to our mouths and taste the symphony of flavor produced, in part, by our own labors.

In the kitchen, we are co-creators. Using what the Lord has provided for us by land or sea, we are invited to create something beautiful and new. We have the opportunity to nurture our own bodies and extend hospitality to anyone who may enter our home.

 

A Place to Unwind

The kitchen cultivates patience, too.

When will the timer beep?

Here, waiting is almost always a good thing. Natural moments of rest are woven into the fiber of the work, allowing space for contemplation and prayer. The gap between dough and warm bread or cookies is an invitation to release, engage and encounter.

 

The Recipe

So, ultimately, what is it that makes the kitchen so homey? The answer is a small surrender. 

As we surrender, the Lord receives, and he comes down to dwell. Allowing the Holy Spirit to make his home here, it transforms the kitchen from the engine of home economics to the heart, softening the edges, calming the clamor, and enriching the experience. It becomes a space where work and rest live in harmony, for ourselves and all who enter. Here, God’s glory meets our humanity, crafting the perfect recipe for the heart of home.

Bridget McCartney Nohara, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, writes from Ontario, Canada.