Guest Post: Foraging For What Matters Most in the Life You Already Have

When you get close to the raw materials and taste them at the moment they let go of the soil, you learn to respect them.” ~Rene Redzepi

Foraging for food is not something I do, unless you count the nightly pantry raids after the kids are in bed and my husband and I settle in with Netflix. I am more likely to be found foraging for a pint of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream in the freezer section at Target than I am in the forest for edible mushrooms, obviously.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, foraging for sustenance typically involves a weekly grocery run or adding an item to a virtual cart for delivery, thanks to a modern society that considers accessibility a virtue. The idea of prowling around a field of wild blossoms or digging in the sand for snails to make dinner is lost for those of us foraging the internet for ‘Chinese takeout near me’.

Come to think of it, I don’t know the last time I used the word forage until I came across Chef Rene Redzepi on my favorite food travel show.

Rene Redzepi is a chef and restaurant owner in Denmark with an unusual manner of procuring ingredients and has been named the best in the world (!) several years in a row. What is fascinating about this restaurant is much of the ingredients used are foraged locally from the wild. Among the gaggle of mass produced ingredients and international accessibility of almost anything, he forages the land for what is already there.

As the show followed him to the places he often forages, I wondered if this has more to do with life as a whole than just sustainable food sourcing. What if the life I want most isn’t to be added to a cart, but is hidden by everything I don’t want? What if happiness for me, doesn’t look like what happiness looks like for the masses? Instead, could contentment and purpose be foraged from the life I already have?

Maybe, I thought, the life I long for is hidden by the life I think I’m supposed to have.

Perhaps, the raw materials for a simple, slow, and sustainable life can be sourced from within my own fertile soul.

Foraging for a Meaningful Life

By simplifying my life, I learned minimalism isn’t about our stuff; it’s about our soul. Minimizing our clutter is a tool that gets us closer to the source of life, the ground of all being. Minimalism forages for the meaningful life we were created for from the soil of the Source itself, and in time, as Chef Redzepi says, we learn to respect the ingredients when we get close to the soil.

The thing is, when we dig underneath the layers of stuff – physical and emotional – we find the sacred in the simple; meaning in the moment. And then, as if the sun has risen for the first time, we find life sprouting in all the places we’d avoided and things we’ve hidden behind.

The Minimalists said in their book, Everything That Remains, “When I got rid of the majority of my possessions, I was forced to confront my darker side, compelled to ask questions I wasn’t prepared for: When did I give so much meaning to material possessions? What is truly important in life? Why am I discontented? Who is the person I want to become? How will I define my own success?”

The Best Things are Closer than We Think

The more I thought about foraging for the important things in my life, I realized I didn’t need an outside source to sustain my happiness. The clothes or the handbag or the next self-help book felt heavy, like processed junk that filled my home rather than my soul.

This world will always be there to tell us how we should live, how we should look, and what success is. Minimalism opens the door to discovering the wild, rich land to forage for something different – something rare and true and rooted far deeper than the standards of society.

It often seems we have to go search the world for our happiness or enlightenment, but maybe the best things are closer to home than we think.

The Internal Wilderness

Minimalism draws us closer to the soil of our lives. It literally drops us to our knees as we sort through the stuff we forgot we had, and to the center of ourselves that feels wild and raw – to the very places worth foraging for the important things.

The important things to forage your life for are:

The Self

It’s easy to become attached to the self we have portrayed to the world, playing the part we were told to play or felt we had to in order to receive love. But there is a true self that is deeply hidden in the soul, as Richard Rohr says, “The true self is our inherent dignity that no one can give to us and no one can take away.”

Foraging for the self is letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embracing who you already are – which is, inherently worthy of love no matter what you do or have.

The Soul

We don’t realize how much our stuff impacts our well-being. Clutter has been proven to cause more stress and anxiety in our lives, and our response is often to relieve our stress with shopping. Our sense of identity is misplaced and unfortunately, measured by our collection of shoes or the size of our jeans.

Foraging for the soul is an inner work that begins with detaching our worth from our stuff. As we remove the physical clutter, the emotional and spiritual clutter is revealed. It’s not easy work, foraging for the soul, but the deeper we dig the more rooted we become to the Source itself.

The Sacred

Foraging for the sacred is perhaps the simplest of all. It requires only being aware; awake to the world around us. Pay attention and everything is revealed as sacred. All of nature moves and lives and exists by the sacredness of its Creator.

To see the sacred, we merely need eyes of gratitude and wonder at the mystery of being here, in this very moment. In the ways we practice our faith, how we live in the present, and how we love and show compassion and befriend the least of these – we find the sacred in the simple, the raw materials of a meaningful life.

Chef Redzepi said, “…the worst meals are when people are just following a culinary trend,” and so it is with life. A meaningful life can be found right where you are, following no one but your true self into the wild places of what matters most.

Lisa Avellan.jpg

Besides the writer behind Simple & Soul, Lisa is: A seeker of the meaningful and significant in each moment AND unashamed to Netflix binge a whole season in one sitting. A relentless homebody that aches to visit and experience the world for all its beauty, culture, languages, and food! A passionate creative who just wants to take a nap. A “Four” on the Enneagram. A pursuer of Jesus and his radical expression of love for the world in which “he existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.” (Col. 1:17 TPT) Also, the greatest joy and honor of my life is being the wife to the most patient man and mom to the most beautiful girls in Southern California. They are revelations of God’s affection every day.