The following is a re-posting, with minor revisions, of what I wrote for Jenny's Suscipio (she now blogs at The Littlest Way) in June of last year.
In my youth, I would hang around my grandmother's kitchen, sitting on a high stool, and watch how ingredients were carefully selected, prepared, and cooked over long hours. Everyone then converged to the long and narrow dining room where mealtimes were extended and filled with chatter. Much later, as a young bride, meal preparation was a hit-and-miss exercise, but because of Husband's patience and appreciation for my efforts, mealtimes naturally emerged as warm and strong memories from that time in the university flat that we refer to as our first home.
What made those meals so special? Why did they bind together those who shared them? Why did we come back for more? Why do we hold close those memories of gathering together to undertake a seemingly inconsequential activity of replenishing our bodies' store of nutrients?
Might it be because preparing every meal took all the thoughtfulness, care, and love that one's heart and kitchen could hold? Might it be because we are not just replenishing our physical bodies' store of nutrients, but also fortifying our bonds of love and sense of family? Might it be because partaking of a common source of well-being and strength, we remembered with endearment and thanksgiving, and therefore kept coming back?
I venture that it is all those.
"Holy things are ordinary things perceived in their true light, that is, as bearers of divine mysteries and glory to us. Looked at this way, eating becomes eucharistic, and working becomes "opus dei", and loving becomes an image of the City of God."
And I am reminded, too, of a meal that was shared many centuries ago...
At the head of the table was a Carpenter who taught people to love God and their neighbor, including their enemy. Around Him were twelve simple men, some of them fishermen. Theirs was not exactly a royal meal, but they had bread and wine.
"And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying, "This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My Blood."
~ Luke 22:19-21
|Photo source: The Vatican Today (news.va) Flickr photostream|
The meal changed the whole world for all time. Because of the total giving and sharing, not only those men around the table were able to partake of the Goodness of that meal. Many centuries hence, even we could do so -- daily, if we wish to, and the Goodness is just as real, generous, nourishing, and healing.
Soon after the meal, the Carpenter was put to death in a most shameful way because He spoke the Truth. On the third day, though, He rose again as He had promised. And because He suffered, died, and rose again, we can hope to live forever and one day, as one family, partake of that most blessed banquet being prepared for us in that most blessed place.