Spirit of Life: Food is Life
Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf
I was surprised, although perhaps I should not have been, at the passionate discussion that developed during our Town Hall meeting about the “Social/Coffee Hour” we have after our worship services. We were talking about food- and after all, we all need food to stay alive. And usually, around noon, we’re pretty hungry. But beyond survival, what benefits does eating, and eating together, provide us with? I appreciate discussions that provide us with opportunities to dig a little deeper into a problem. Together, we can reach creative solutions that help us grow past our limitations. I am not aiming to provide any solutions here, or answer anyone’s specific questions, or settle any disagreements. I am merely- yes I’m going to say it- providing some “food for thought”.
Choice- The food we choose to put into our bodies can be a spiritual choice. From vegetarianism or religious restrictions to eating local or free-range animal products, we sometimes make choices that don’t relate to how food tastes or what we enjoy. Rather, we make choices that are mindful; choices that resonate with our values; choices that nourish us and keep us healthy, vibrant, and joyful. It’s soul-work and it determines how we affect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. I appreciate the effort that Tom has put into acquiring healthy foods for us to snack on as we chat together.
Community- Food goes beyond simply keeping us alive. It brings us together. We are about to journey into that time of year when eating together is a vital part of many family traditions and holidays. But, eating together and forming community bonds shouldn’t be reserved for just holidays. Indeed, we have potluck on the 2nd Sunday of every month here at UUCL. And, we LOVE potluck. We’ve been doing this for longer than I even know. We’d have to ask one of our elders to tell the story of its beginnings.
When it’s not 2nd Sunday, we have “snacks” and “refreshments”. They’re not as filling as the good food that is brought to our potlucks but having something to nourish our bodies gives us more time to connect with each other. As we read in the quote above, we need to dine well in order to think and love well. And, isn’t that what the spirit of life calls us to do in the Social Hall after service? But, where does the food that nourishes us come from? For the most part, for the last few years, the same two people have been serving us refreshments every Sunday.
Caring- Hold up! There’s no community in that! While Tom and Marsha are feeding our stomachs, and consequently, our souls, how are we feeding them What are we doing to contribute to this sacred post-worship time that we get to enjoy every week? What if there was no food provided to us? At this point, I’m starting to question whether or not we’ve really taken the time to set a purpose for this post-worship time we spend together. Providing food for one another shows that we care for one another and the sacred time we spend together. How can we “do” church during this time? Aren’t we in the business of transforming lives? How do we use this time for that purpose Are we really showing that we have taken great care to be sure we are doing church in a way that benefits every person that shows up on Sunday mornings?
Food is congregational life. Mull that over for a little while and see if you can’t find the importance to the issue at hand.
As I was writing this column, I was reminded of an excellent article I read in last June’s UU World magazine:
Let’s talk about it! I hope to schedule a hospitality meeting very soon!