Word-Chef

I enjoy writing. Yet, this hasn’t always been the case. I hated writing as a kid. Up through high school, I was a “math geek” and would take equations over essays any time.

My attitude toward writing began evolving sometime in college, after I had changed my major from Information and Computer Science to Pre-Ministry. By the time I graduated from college, I was enjoying the craft more.

Although I’ve enjoyed writing for a couple of decades now, my appreciation for the craft has continued to transform. Upon graduating from college and entering the full-time pastorate, I was filled with youthful zeal and arrogance. I believed writing would be my key to success and notoriety. I dreamed of writing the next book that would unlock spiritual mysteries and capture the hearts of American Christians.

As I matured in my ministry a little, writing became more utilitarian. Words were the tools for teaching, inspiring and leading. I studied great communicators and their techniques in order to become more successful in my own attempts to impart ecclesiastical vision and theological instruction.

Several years ago, writing shifted into a more reflective craft. I was enamored with the idea of wordsmithing. There was something romantic in the vision of a master wordsmith, a skilled artisan of prose who could sense the grain and texture of words and intuitively assemble them into a masterpiece.

Fine DiningThe other day I was thinking about writing and I thought about a new image for a writer — a word-chef. For me, this concept captures the mastery and innovation of a wordsmith, but adds a relational dimension. Like a smith, a chef must also be skilled in his or her craft. She must master tastes, textures and temperatures and know how to combine and present them in artistic and palatable ways. This generates layers of complexity since her creation must play upon all of the senses. Yet, ultimately, a chef’s craft is for another person. As much as she loves creating in her medium, her final product is to be consumed and enjoyed by another. Another will admire the blending of colors, inhale the enticing aromas, detect the subtle textures, and have their palate caressed by the flavors.

That’s the direction I want to progress in my writing. I want to put voice to the inherent beauty around me in such a way that it impacts all of the senses. I dream of working with savory words that will roll around in another’s mouth and evoke images that allow them to experience the tang or sweetness of the moment.

This desire bore itself deeply into my thoughts the other day as I was finishing a walk around my neighborhood. In the warm light of a setting sun, I saw a young man and woman saying goodbye to each other. They held each other, kissed and parted. As the young man rode off on his bike and the girl walked down the street, I noticed a slight smile light upon her face.

It was a touching moment that no one else would witness and I wanted to frame it with words, to write a few sentences that would express the ardor and pathos of young love. And all I could do in that moment was fumble with my inability as the words remained just beyond my reach.

Moments like this occur frequently. And as providence allows me to observe them, I’m hoping beyond measure that I will learn to recount those moments with words like a verbal chef, fashioning a sumptuous meal filled with aroma and flavor that unleashes the magic of imagination.

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