Posts Tagged ‘breaking bread’

You say you want a resolution?

THE SHARED TABLE is celebrating the New Year with a GIVEAWAY – the first ever! And yes, of course it's a book – but it's not a cookbook; I'm pretty sure you already have plenty of those. Read on to see what it is and how it can be yours!

We're already one week into the year 2011; that's plenty of time to have broken some or all of your New Year's resolutions…so, how are you doing with that?

The etymology of the word "resolution" comes from a word that means to "to loosen, dissolve, untie," which makes sense if you consider that before you initiate new habits, you have to "loosen" the bad ones that have kept you in bondage. What things keep you in bondage? For many people, it's food.

The significance of food in our lives is pretty obvious when you consider New Year's Resolutions; food and our relationship with it generally ranks pretty high on the Top Ten list. What if we decided to think about food in a different way?  What might happen if rather than studying every morsel of food we put in our mouths we studied food itself? Specifically, the spiritual significance of food?

Author Sara Covin Juengst took on that project back in 1992 when she wrote "Breaking Bread, the Spiritual Significance of Food." In the foreward of the book, author Parker J. Palmer notes that the author shows "how food is woven as intricately as faith into the entire fabric of our lives." Of Juengst's work, Walter Brueggemann says, "The book lets us retaste and renotice and reswallow our life from God."

Among others, the author covers topics such as:

  • Stewardship: Food as God's Good Gift
  • Hospitality: Expression of Grace
  • Bonding: Strangers No Longer

In the chapter titled Compassion: The Great Inasmuch, Juengst includes a poem she wrote after coming home from hunger-stricken Africa to affluent America:

I hear these words about “the poor”
and brush them into the corners of my mind.
I cannot think about them now
I am too preoccupied
     with the choice of hors d’oeuvres for my party
     and the color of my new shoes.
I am too anxious
     about the impression I make
     to decide for diminishing
     or to question the givens.
I am too cautious
     to risk the highway
     that leads away from safe places.
Convenience blankets me,
 stifles the clamor of a hungry world.           
 

The fact that I own a copy of this book is pretty amazing; prior to launching THE SHARED TABLE, I read everything I could get my hands on about the connection between food and hospitality – there's not much out there, by the way.

One day after futilely combing through the more than 500,000 used books at Steven's Book Store, I literally stumbled over a pile of books blocking an aisle, glanced down and there on top was the out of print "Breaking Bread."  At $1.95, it was a steal, being that I'd searched for months without finding a copy for less than $100.

Here's my well-loved copy:

This book has become one of my most prized possessions and now I've come up with a way for you to have one of your own. Recently I came across another copy, only this one is just like new, so I've decided to give it away to one of my subscribers as part of The Shared Table's First Giveaway. To enter for a chance to win:

STEP 1: Enter your email in the RSVP box in the upper right hand corner & click submit.  (If you've already subscribed to "The Shared Table", skip this step)

STEP 2: In the comment section, let me know how you plan to share YOUR table in 2011. 

One lucky winner will be chosen Monday night!

THE LAST BITE:

A little Google Search Trivia on the above subjects:

"FOOD" …762,000,000 results. Apparently people are interested in the subject.

"SPIRITUALITY" …40,800,000 results. Hmmm….

"NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS" …43,500,000

Maybe we could start a "RESOLUTION REVOLUTION" by changing the way we think about food. Who's in?

Let us break bread together

Even as a little girl, I sensed that something special takes place when people share a meal, and given my Italian and Southern Scotch-Irish heritage, our family enjoyed some amazing meals when we gathered for reunions, all of it foreign to our bland Midwest palates: spinach-stuffed ravioli and polenta on the Italian side – crab, collards and biscuits at Mom Minnie's. No wonder I was a pudgy little kid.

Those meals not only filled my tummy, they satisfied my soul with a deep sense of belonging. Imagine sitting around the table, with people speaking Italian, or listening to my larger-than life uncles tell their crazy stories of life on a shrimp boat! Laughter was the main ingredient of those hours-long meals and I remember feeling like I was part of a larger story.

It turns out I was on to something; as I've studied the ancient tradition of hospitality, I've learned something special does indeed take place when we gather together to eat. In Christian circles, we often call taking the Lord's Supper 'breaking bread.' Jesus gave his life, (became broken bread) for us so that we might have life.

Breaking bread can also refer to the common meal. Something equally mystical happens when we gather together to break bread - strangers become companions, a word whose literal meaning is "the one with whom bread is broken."  

Interestingly, the Scottish word for companion is "marrow" – the essence, the best part. It can be a simple sharing of rustic bread and rough red wine, or an extravagant seven-course feast, but the best part, the essence, is the experience of companionship.

THE LAST COURSE: The part about the marrow reminds me of a teacher friend of mine, who as the end of her summer vacation approaches, likes to say that she is "sucking the marrow out of each remaining day." She knows how to savor the riches of her life.

So the next time you gather around the table, do it with an attitude of expectancy. Slow down; take time to truly appreciate your 'daily bread' and be thankful for the very best part….each other.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AN ITALIAN FEAST:

Roasted Italian sausages and grapes, bathed in olive oil and rosemary, accompanied by polenta and white beans with sage. The meal was molto bene, and so was the fellowship!