This is day 20 in a 31 day series on hospitality. Start from the beginning here.
“Eating with the fullest pleasure is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure, we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”
The above quote is from Wendell Berry’s book, The Unsettling of America, and I highly recommend it.
We, as Americans, have lost the art of eating well. And we, as moms, have lost the art of feeding people well. We belittle this task because it’s seems so menial and repetitive. Or we say to ourselves, “I’m just not a good cook.” I used to say the same thing. And then it dawned on me that these little people I live with are gonna want to eat everyday. And not just everyday, but several times a day. This need for us all to eat is not going anywhere. So I taught myself to cook. I watched Foodtv and cooking videos and read cookbooks and practiced a lot.
Why? Because I really care about these people that I live with everyday and I want to feed them well. We seem to have left the feeding up to the ‘experts’ and we’ve become so distanced from actual food that grows in the ground that we wouldn’t recognize good food even if we saw it. Our prepackaged, precooked, over processed food has led to a similar superficial lifestyle. Ease of preparation and speed have become our idols. We have forgotten that some things take time, as well they should. Food reminds us that for some things in life, we have to slow down. We need to sit. To savor. To enjoy.
And it’s not just the quality of the food that suffers.
We’ve left the mystery and the sanctity of the table for a lifestyle of running.
But the table has always been a place of rest and soul nourishment.
“The table is the place where you connect and belong. It is a place where the past remains alive in the memory of the very old, and future sparkles with possibility. It is enchanted. We lean close together, we share a glass, we tell a story. Through this simple human relating, the universe feels it is right again.”
My journey to liturgical christianity has taught me more of this than anything else. The climax of the liturgical service is the meal. Everything builds to communion, the Lord’s supper. For it is here that Christ feeds us His very body and blood for forgiveness and salvation. That life that He won for us on the cross is precious and sacred. And how did He choose to deliver it to us? In a meal. In simple bread and wine. In the waters of baptism. He chose menial, everyday items to bring us Himself. It speaks so powerfully of the mystery of this communion, of eating together.
We are not just filling our bodies when we sit together and eat. This is our little communion, if you will. We are learning to live from the profound mysteries of life, to be thankful for this food and to cherish those with whom we share it. I would even venture to say that there is no way to love someone more than to feed them well. Food is powerful and full of mystery and as we prepare a table for others, we are making a place for them in our hearts.
There is a certain mixture of reverence and joy as we break bread together.
We do it in gratitude, to our Father who provides our daily bread and to the hands who have cared enough for us to grow it and prepare it. And if we have failed in this blessed task (as we do daily) then let us come to our Father, who lavishes forgiveness and ask Him to help us see the meal in a new light—to learn to cherish it as He cherishes it and to live in gratitude for this good gift from heaven.
William Carlos Williams said of the meaning of food:
There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord.
The blessed plants
and the sea, yield it
to the imagination
p.s. I love this segment on Issues,etc titled This is my Body and this one In Remembrance of Me on the Lord’s Supper.
p.p.s. There are times for all our use when we need to eat on the fly. Trust me, I do it more often than I’d like. I drove through Chick-fil-A last week and as I left there, I had to stop at their trash and throw out the McDonald’s from breakfast. The irony is not lost on me. Have mercy! But I think any effort we can make to hallow our table fellowship, to make it special, to cook our own food, is so worth it. It teaches our kids that we think this is so important that we are willing to sacrifice our time to do it. We’ll talk more this week about how to take practical steps toward this goal. This is meant to inspire, not to incite guilt. There are seasons in our lives when this is just not possible, trust me, I know. Which is why it’s important to feed others when you can. You’ll need them to feed you at some point and you’ll be so thankful that someone took the time and effort to love you like that. xoxo