Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Reflect as we feast
by Mary Cronk Farrell
(From the Nov. 16, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)
Pecan or pumpkin pie? Sweet or savory dressing? Jellied or whole cranberry sauce? Ah! The delicious dilemmas of planning the Thanksgiving feast brighten even the dreariest November day. As we prepare to celebrate possibly our most extravagant feast of the year, the time is ripe to reflect on the meaning of food in our lives.
Eating can be spiritual practice or wanton habit. Food can be a window to the abundant generosity and wonder of God, and it can be the gradual death of body and spirit.
As a Eucharistic people, the banquet or feast has profound meaning in our lives. God took on human form in Jesus, and became food and drink to sustain us in our earthly life and unite us to God in everlasting life. If we choose to be deliberate and intentional, preparing and enjoying food is a deeply holy act containing ingredients of gratefulness, service and dependence on God.
Iíve always loved food. Though, occasionally, I met one I didnít like. I could never stomach pumpkin unless it was in a pie, cake or bread. Unlike most kids I even liked peas. In elementary school on the days the kitchen served peas for hot lunch, every kid at the long cafeteria table would pass their peas down to me. I cleaned them up like a vacuum cleaner. In my early 30s I realized I am also passionate for cooking and serving food. Later I began growing my own organic vegetables with similar zeal.
Preparing meals and sharing them engage all the senses in exciting and nourishing ways. Slicing red and yellow bell peppers, crunchy and colorful, with fresh green broccoli, hearing the sizzle as they land together in a sautť pan I think, Wow, God went overboard creating good things for us to eat. Opening the oven door to see the light brown crust of †scones puffed in a perfect rise, and breathing in the scent of orange peel and dark chocolate irresistible enough to risk a burnt hand or tongue, I realize God indeed blesses me abundantly.
Pulling my Italian stuffed pizza from the oven and carrying it to the center of my dining room table crowded with friends and family is a foretaste of heaven. Passing around a bowl of pasta with tomatoes and basil fresh from my backyard garden, or a basket of hearty whole grain bread with herbs is evidence that God is indeed, good.
Meals like this are a privilege I often take for granted. I tell myself a feast doesnít have to be gourmet or exotic, but can be as simple as nibbling fresh bread, cheese and a tart pear. I forget that even this menu would be a banquet for the young boy I read about in Loretta Schartz-Nobelís book Growing Up Empty: the Hunger Epidemic in America. His single mother worked long hours to support him and his sister, but the only vegetables they could afford were canned green beans. I doubt my two younger kids have ever eaten a canned green bean, though my oldest son ate them at daycare as a preschooler.
One evening as I urged my children to follow good nutrition, I compared the nutrition labels of my whole wheat tortillas with their larger, white flour, cheese added variety. You can guess which was healthier.
ďBut Mom, itís a special treat,Ē my son pleaded. ďCanít we have something good once in a while?Ē He seemed to have a valid argument, except that it was a regular Wednesday school night, not a special dinner. And they do have good food once in a while. Actually, thereís hardly a day when we donít have good food and a variety of it.
As Thanksgiving approaches Iím asking myself, how can I cultivate a spirit of gratefulness in my family? I donít want to feel guilty that we have plenty of delicious food. I want to recognize the abundance God has given us, and to respond with generosity.
© 2006, Mary Cronk Farrell
(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and
childrenís writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been
published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at www.marycronkfarrell.com)
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