Thursday, November 08, 2007
Spirituality and food.
All through the human history, there has been a correlation between food and spirituality. We find the earliest unearthed fragments of ancient artifacts attest to this. Food is vital to survival and therefore involved the participation of the whole family and often the whole community. The gathering and preparation provided an active ground for socialization between family members. The meal served as a model of the family’s group efforts, and gathering to share the meal provided bonding and communication. The shared companionship is the nourishment that the spiritual needs to flourish and develop. Modern families can benefit from this concept as a family and as individuals. Meals involving the whole family in preparation and sharing of the meal, will eventually lead to the family members making their own connections; between the earth’s offerings to the family and the family’s connection to each other and their community as a whole, which is the true concept of shared spirituality.
Gathering food often took whole communities and families, this involved interaction between the people and groups. If we look to the past, we find many sacred practices associated with the hunting or gathering of food by families or communities. The ease, quantity, and quality of food are often seen as at the control of a higher power or deity. People offered Prayers of one form or another asking for success in the endeavor; these prayers passed on and became traditions or cultural based spiritual practices. Each person seems to develop a certain skill, which others appreciate or admire. This admiration while usually silent lends toward our appreciation of others. Skills involved in the hunting or gathering were taught or passed on. This was also true of the preparation of gathered food. The entire group held a sense of achievement and unity when the harvesting was done.
If we look back at history, many different groups have had spiritual rituals around meals or feast. Different cultures have seen that the sharing of food seems naturally to evoke conversation and promote fellowship or bonding. Examples of this are the ancient Mayas, the Hebrews and the Native Americans.
People sharing meals and each other’s company brings about the sharing of spirituality, as it comes from each other not an outside source.
Our interaction with others tends to invoke gratitude, which is an important aspect of spiritual unity. Just as the body needs substance to survive so to does the human heart crave the company of others. We see this in the popularity of potlucks, which are a feast where everyone has contributed too. Wakes are another form of feast that many cultures hold to mark a loved ones passing
How do we add this to our modern day lives? It is best when trying anything-new to start with simple concepts, like setting aside time during the week for at least one leisurely meal. Families can involve all in some of the gathering or preparation. Let the conversation lean toward each individual at the table. In addition, try to avoid talking about events not involving the family or group Dinning together, but do not make ridged rules. If you already have a prescribed blessing for meals, this is wonderful. In addition to or instead of formal prayer people may take turns saying one thing they are grateful for that day. People are always seeking meaning or spiritual understanding and usually they look outside for it. However, as indicated before it proves to be in interaction with others and meals provide a fertile ground for spiritual discovery and growth.