Come to the Table
Reflections on Food as Tangible Form of Love
The truth is that whenever we eat, we are making a statement about who we think we are and how we value the world. What would it mean to see eating as receiving God’s creation? Eating is not just a physiological act. It’s an ecological act and a profoundly spiritual act. ~Norman Wirzba
Eating is a Profoundly Spiritual Act
My mother’s primary love language was food. She gardened and canned and cooked and served as ways of expressing love through food. She would feed anyone who showed up at her table with heaping piles of warm, delicious things. I want to feed people the way she did because eating is, as our fall guest speaker Norman Wirzba writes, “a profoundly spiritual act.” What we eat and how we eat—both individually and collectively—reflect our gratitude, our stewardship, our generosity, our joy, and our love.
This kind of practical and embodied love is central to the Benedictine idea of community. For example, when Benedict described how to greet people who showed up at the monastery, he suggested care for their spiritual and their physical needs. Pray with them. Wash their hands and feet. And, of course, feed them.
Food Wisdom from the Rule
As I read the Rule of St. Benedict, at least three Benedictine values inform the sacred acts of eating and sharing food:
- Sacredness in the Ordinary| The stuff of everyday life is infused with sacredness, “like vessels of the altar” (RB 31). The food we eat, then, the labor involved in growing and preparing that food, and even the earth itself are all thoroughly common and holy.
- Simplicity and Moderation| The Benedictine principle shaping food consumption is that we eat what we need to do our work—not more and not less. On days of arduous labor, we may need more food. On other days, we may need less. And, if we share, there is more than enough for everyone.
- Hospitality| “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ” (RB 53). Feeding people is essential to hospitality as a demonstration of tangible love.
Food & Faith Series
To help people practice these values in their relationships with food, the Benedictine Center has created a series of special events related to Food & Faith. I invite you to join me Oct. 19-21 for a delicious adventure that would make any loving-through-food mother proud. Come for all or part as you are able.
Friday: Sink your hands into the dirt at a small farm and taste the farmer’s life in the 21st century. Then visit a food shelf to explore about what it means to live not knowing where you will get your next meal. Register online.
Friday eve: Savor a potluck with the Sisters and friends of St. Paul's Monastery, seasoned with stories and memories. Register online.
Friday-Sunday: Stir your questions of food & faith with a weekend of prayer and hands-on cooking skills, while practicing true gratitude, honoring our relationships, sharing more, and wasting less. Register online.
Explore the possibilities for personal retreat.
Learn more about Benedictine spirituality.