Lacking inspiration for my blog this week, I decided to do what I used
to do when I was preaching on a regular basis. I laid down, prayed for guidance
and inspiration, and then begin to focus on my breathing. At some point, I fell
asleep to some show on the Food Network. However, the first words I heard were
Chris Santos reflecting on the four contestants on a repeat episode of Chopped.
In this episode, the four cheftestants cooked for non-profit organizations. His
comment was about how we need to give thanks for those who cook as a form of
I have seen this episode before, but today, it struck me in a very powerful way. Right now, I have a full house of groceries, but I can still remember this summer when we had to go almost two months without the funds to buy groceries. I think about friends of ours who only get to eat because of food stamps. I think about how this governmental shutdown has not only shut down operations which will never affect the every day person, but has shut down the WIC office and left a friend of mine in need, until her prayers for cereal, milk, and eggs were answered in other ways. I have heard some of my students tell stories about how they received nutritional meals from local social service agencies when they were growing up. I know people who have been temporarily homeless and wondered where their next meal was going to come from. I know people who can no longer leave their homes and receive all their meals via programs like Meals on Wheels.
I have also known food to be therapeutic and help so many people turn their lives around. One of the reasons I love Chopped in particular is the stories of people who were going through challenging times in their lives. They have told stories of being homeless, battling addictions, doing time in jail, having had near life experiences. What has brought each of them through was what they learned in the kitchen and in their interaction with food, the preparation of it, and the serving of it.
Whether these people are now cooking at for profits or non-profits, they each give thanks for what they are doing and the transformative effect it has on people and their lives. I started to think about how I do not cook for people, however, then I began to think about how many times I have brought groceries for those in need, made pots of chicken noodle soup for friends who were sick, or opened our homes on the holidays for those who need a family environment where they can break bread and give thanks. I thought about all the times friends have brought us soup and groceries when we were both sick, brought us meals when we most needed them without them even knowing we were struggling to just get through the month.
I think about the look on my friend Sam’s face when the oatmeal bread came out of the oven, when I made a new batch of cabbage casserole, or I shared the leftover eggplant parmesan with him. The look on his face reminded me of a 5 year old who was shaking with the excitement about the meal that was to come. Then I began to think about a conversation between Ram Das and his guru
Ram Das: How will I know God?
Teacher: Feed people.
Ram Das: How will I become enlightened?
Teacher: Serve them.
So today, I just want to give thanks for all those who have become enlightened through their relationship with food and being of service.