Today as I write my weekly column, I am making cheese. Pots of milk are warming on my stove-top and are undergoing a transformation. With the addition of a pinch of rennet, a touch of bacteria culture, and a bit of heat, milk becomes cheese. With time, rounds of cheese will age and become even better. It is really a number of small factors that change everyday milk into so much more. The goodness is in the details.
The process itself is quite simple. In fact, cheese was made in stone huts and caves well before modern science understood all that went into making good cheese. Today we know that hundreds of small details make cheese into regional specialties. From the quality of the milk, to the bacteria in the soil where the grass grows that feeds the cows. Each detail plays a vital role. For example, Parmesan cheese is specific to a region of Italy where certain naturally occurring bacteria exist and impart a unique flavour to the cheese. Coupled with hundreds of years of local cheese making traditions, Parmesan cheese has become a delicacy today enjoyed around the world. Cheese can be made haphazardly, but it may be best enjoyed when it is crafted with a bit of knowhow and care.
As I was making my cheese, I found that I had a small helper. My four year old daughter had pulled up beside me and wanted to lend a hand. She mostly danced with her stuffed bunny, practiced her ‘english accent’ on me, told silly jokes, and wanted me to wrestle with her on the kitchen floor. After awhile she skipped off to play and find something to do, on her way out she looked at me and said, “making cheese isn’t so exciting.” In some ways she is right, making cheese is slow work.
Making good things take time. My bees make honey only a few months of the year, some fruit trees need a decade to produce fruit, wine takes months or years, and I’m finding that cheese requires more than a microwave and three easy steps.
Those things we love also take time. While my daughter might not find cheese making very exciting, the fun we had in the kitchen was exactly what we needed. Parenting takes time. Marriages takes time. The pace of growing relationships simply cannot be rushed or hurried along.
Time is one ingredient of the good things in life, but our relationships require more. Additional knowhow, practice, and even a few traditions and intentionality are needed if they are to mature well. While we might have quick and ready acquaintances aplenty, it is those relationships that have been nurtured and cared for that are most delightful in the end.
We have the opportunity everyday to nurture neighbourhood connections, friendships, and our own families in ways that promote the long and beautiful road to goodness. We will always be presented with an easier way, a quick solution, and a short path towards fixing a problem, but in time we will see that others are not a problem to fix, but friendships to be nurtured.
May we spend our days making things that take time, talking long with our children, family, friends, and spouse. May we learn the unhurried and detailed art of loving others and nurturing goodness between us and those who live nearby. Good things take time, and goodness is found in the details.