Friday, June 14, 2013

Reflections on Proverbs: Dinner of Herbs

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
  than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Proverbs 15:17

Food is elemental, and our relationship with it is complicated and powerful. Spend a few moments thinking about meals in your past where love was a guest. How did the food taste? How did it make you feel?

Now spend a few minutes thinking about meals where hate was the guest. What was the physical effect on you? Could you eat? How did the food taste? How did the food make you feel?

I love how this proverb acknowledges the deep connection between body and spirit. When the spirit is sick, the body can't be nourished properly. Whether we feel hatred or feel hated, the physical impact is enormous. We describe our stomach as being in knots. We feel sick. Our throat is so tight it's hard to swallow. We are weighed down by hate, tightened by it. Nothing else can get in.

When we feel love or feel loved, the physical sensations are light and liberating. We relax. We can enjoy the taste of food and feel nourished body and soul.

I remember reading a story by a single mother who was struggling financially. One night, all she had was some broth and mushrooms, and she made mushroom soup. She felt bad to have nothing else for her daughter, so she found an old candle, put a blanket on the floor, and she and her daughter had an indoor picnic.

Years later, the daughter told her mother that was her favorite meal ever. The daughter had no idea how hurt the mother was to have nothing better for her child...she only knew that her mother loved her, and that mushroom soup tasted amazing as a result.

Today's lives are so busy. How often do you sit down with loved ones and enjoy a meal? Think of ways you can invite love to your table and restore a positive spirit to the elemental act of eating. Perhaps it's through a prayer before or after the meal, or through a weekly "dressing up" of the table using the fine china and crystal. Maybe it's just eating in your formal dining area instead of the kitchen or eating outside on a comfortable night.

Whatever you do, invite love to the table. The food tastes so much better then!

Share your thoughts on love and food. How do you make even simple meals special?

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