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Living in Full

by Addy Rogers

Friday, June 16, 2023

Living in Full

Every Tuesday you can smell the most fantastic aromas in our hallways.

From tender herbs that turn into summer salad dressings, to curries brightened by fresh citrus, our kitchen becomes an unscripted version of Chef’s Table.

Living in Full—a health and nutrition class with a symbolic slant— was developed by one of our life coaches, Hanna Grove, and inspired by a bible verse that has underpinned her mindset towards healthy living for years.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

To some, a 500 square-foot space might sound like what inspired the term “too many cooks in the kitchen,” but in our case, there’s no such thing.

After class ends on Tuesday mornings, program participants gather in our kitchen, adorned with floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with utensils, dishes, and ingredients. In the middle is a stainless steel island perfect for multiple prepping stations.

The scene that unfolds next encapsulates the purpose of Living in Full.

Working from a recipe that may or may not have been edited to enhance flavors, something Hanna always encourages, PH ladies get to work, dividing the work between each other. Slicing, dicing, stirring, and seasoning. The kitchen becomes an orchestra made up of different utensils.

Some might call what happens in the kitchen on Tuesdays a metaphor, and according to Hanna, that would be accurate.

“Oftentimes food has a relationship with shame, guilt, and judgment, and eating meals together doesn’t always spark happiness. For some it was a place where instead of feeling full, they only felt empty. But our kitchen is a place of encouragement and empowerment. The friendship, creativity, and Holy Spirit turn it into a place of healing.”

Since its beginning, in June 2022, there has been a new Living in Full series every quarter.

While some series have focused on exploring certain categories of ingredients such as “herbs” or seasons—summer offered a great excuse to explore salads and fall lent itself to hearty soups—other series like “Meals from Memories” have invited sentiments to be the guiding force behind the menu.

On one particular Tuesday, staff and program participants gathered around tables feeding each other large handfuls of doro wot (spicy chicken stew) wrapped in injera (flatbread made with teff flour), a chance for us to pay homage and celebrate Hanna’s Ethiopian heritage.

“When participants walk out of class and across the hallway to the kitchen, often intensely aware of their brokenness, the kitchen immediately serves as a reminder that nothing is ever wasted,” Hanna explains.

“Experiences in life can make us bitter and tough, but God will always find a way to use those parts of us to make something beautiful if we let Him.”

The last half of Living in Full is dedicated to eating together.

Side by side we sit—staff, ladies in our program, volunteers, and sometimes even board members—at the long table in the middle of the multipurpose room, plates piled high, conversation ricocheting off the walls.

Seasonings and spices start to mingle as stories unfold and the atmosphere becomes thick, not with the steam, but from the sacredness of the tradition.

This is what it means to be full.

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