Studying a spider at close range during a walk in the woods. Picking up trash in an inner-city neighborhood. Allowing troubled youth to assist in a search for lost keys. Grieco’s updated version of The Kitchen Mystic, first published in 1992, captures many splendid moments within ordinary circumstances.
A teacher of forgiveness training from Minneapolis, the author somehow manages to explore twenty-first century existence while acknowledging the negative forces that blind and bombard us. Her delightfully readable chapters explore universal concepts of forgiveness, acceptance, giving and receiving love, and the need for self-discipline. Offering personal stories and unpretentious assurances for “spiritual explorers,” this also provides several recipes for contentment and spiritual growth, much on the order of a cherished cookbook that enriches our quality of existence by explaining basic cooking concepts. A special book that deserves a place on library shelves.
—Susan DeGrane, Booklist
Two decades ago, when she published The Kitchen Mystic, (Hazelden, 1992) Mary Hayes Grieco got the feeling it was a book that would be with her for a long time. This June, with the publication of The New Kitchen Mystic (Beyond Words, June 2013,) her intuition turns out to be true.
“Writing is a byproduct of my own spiritual questions,” says Grieco in an interview from her home in Minneapolis. Those questions drove the original edition, which began as a series of columns in a local health and recovery journal. The columns were “my impulse to share my discovery process with other spiritual seekers,” she says.
The New Kitchen Mystic, which contains 11 new essays plus a new introduction, is about finding meaning, awareness, and mindfulness in even the most mundane activities. Grieco uses the metaphor of the kitchen as a place where people perform everyday tasks in a way that is both functional and transformative.
Being a spiritual seeker, according to Grieco, means striving for a life of meaning in a complex world, and asking questions of both the inner and outer spaces we inhabit. She describes it as “an ongoing dialogue between that part of God that’s inside of us and that part of God that’s all around us.”
The New Kitchen Mystic is a combination of how-to essays, storytelling, and philosophical reflection. The topics are meant to appeal to the growing spiritual-but-not-religious segment of the U.S. population that is sometimes known as “the Nones” because they don’t adhere to one particular tradition.
Though the nones are much discussed today — mainly due to a Pew research study that showed one-fifth of Americans are unaffiliated with any faith — Grieco believes that this spiritual-but-not-religious cohort was also her population of readers in 1992 when The Kitchen Mystic was first published. The yearnings haven’t changed, she says: “There’s a lot more permission now in our culture to be a none without being a weirdo,” says Grieco. “I think my audience then and now consisted of a lot of these people — but now it is a larger audience.”
—Holly Lebowitz Rossi, Publisher’s Weekly
May 6, 2013