Saturday, May 21, 2016

Eat your Prayers

During my years as a youth minister, I once knew a boy who would change how I view preparing and eating food for the rest of my life. This boy explored the traditions of many faiths practices from Rasta to Native American Rites of Passage. He was extremely well versed for someone so young but yet, he spoke like an age-old soul. During one of his spiritual dabbling’s, he told me he was learning more about food.

He said he stumbled upon a belief system that spoke of pouring your own energy into the food you create. Your energy is something you spread around, whether intentionally or not, so it is best to be totally aware of what you are manifesting because you will surely experience it coming to life. He said that when he prepares food now, he makes sure he is pouring out energy with good intentions. He prays love and growth, community and healing into the food that he makes.

He recounted one meal with his family that he spent time preparing. As it is his practice, he meditated on pouring good energy into the meal he was making. When his family sat down to eat it, he said he watched as the days struggles began to melt away and their faces became light. The conversation turned to laughter and there seemed to be a cloud of delight holding them in the moment. What would normally have been a mad dash to eat as much as possible before returning to their work became a long meal, lingering, full of warmth and good conversation. He attributed this all to the love he poured into the food that he made.

Of course, you can take this even further, especially if you are the gardener who maintains the foods that you will eventually eat.

Remembering this conversation, I offered a class on allowing the mundane and normal spaces of your day to become intentional encounters with God. In other words, all the normal gestures of your day are actually prayers. In this class, I took the time to pray into a recipe I created for chocolate-chip scones and I shared them with the attendees. I asked everyone to eat very slowly and truly savor the scone. Taste all the flavors. Feel the texture of it in your mouth. Allow your mind to open and your heart to wander to places and memories that began to bubble up. This is how I have experienced the Holy Spirit sharing truth with me, in the bubbling of memories, songs, verses and thoughts from within. I told them that eating the scone would be our closing prayer.

To my surprise, we ran over time. It took each of us over ten minutes to eat those scones. I looked around the room and saw eyes closed, slow moving mouths and occasional smiles stretch across those faces. It was like a scene from Chocolat where the pace of the meal begins to crawl and conversation vanish, in the midst of the delicious foods being neatly plopped into the participants mouths. A strange and wonderful joy comes from truly taking the time to savor your meal and all the moments that come from that savoring.

I found that my own thoughts began to wander to meals with my grandparents. In the debriefing, I was shocked that a class member was having similar memories. In discussing it, we both realized that it was not the scones that brought back these memories but the pace of our eating.

I don’t have a single recollection of rushed meal with my grandparents. Eating together was set aside, sacred time for savoring both the food and people you ate with. My grandmother would spend countless hours preparing meals with great love and we would become nourished with something so much more than nutrients and flavors.

Most of us don’t even taste the food we eat, really taste it. We all have to prepare food and eat every single day but this often feels more like a chore than a gift.

What if we all set the intention to spend time preparing food as prayer. That every ingredient you add is a prayer for someone you love or a word of affirmation. What if, while you sauté your vegetables, you imagine a golden energy of love pouring over each piece and coating the food before you like the butter? What if, while you ate you slowed down. You chewed with purpose and felt the foods moving around your mouth. What if you tasted the flavors and allowed memories to bubble up that take you to new levels of understanding and wisdom?

I believe that if we spent just a few moments making our daily need for meal prep and eating something intentional and prayerful, that our lives would transform immediately for the better. The truth is, our lives would not just spiritually transform. It has been shown that when people take the time to live into this prayer practice their bodies actually absorb more nutrients than people who don’t. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you slow down, you decrease stress and when you decrease stress your body can operate at an optimum level.

However you view your eating habits, I am sure there is room for improvement. What if three times a day you prepared prayers and ate meditations? 

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