Remember that old fashioned custom of pausing a moment and giving thanks before putting food in your mouth?
I’ll admit right here that I have forgotten to do this for ….. well, years! I have at various times in my life attempted to acknowledge the blessing of having food on the table. But it wasn’t something I was religiously raised with so it was never really ‘in my body’. Therefore, it was easy to forget to do it, even though it only takes a moment.
Recently while travelling, I was sitting at the gate in the Phoenix airport. A young African-American man, maybe in his twenties, jostled himself into the seat next to me. He was talking on his phone (thankfully using headphones), had his carry-on bag, a fragrant take-away container and a cup of coffee (thankfully with a lid on it). Out of the corner of my eye I was observing this, hoping he wouldn’t spill something my direction as he got himself settled. He smiled and nodded at me. Although I smiled back, I quickly looked to see if there were other seats available as I prefer not to sit next to people when they are eating, especially when I’m about to board a plane. Alas, the waiting area was full with no spare seats for me to move to. So, I continued to monitor his movements of setting things on the floor, untangling his headphone cord from his baggage and taking the lid off of his take-away dinner. At this point, he says to whoever he is talking to on the phone, “Just hang on a minute, I have to give thanks for my food.” He closed his eyes and for the next sixty seconds of silence, he cradled his meal with a tender embrace and went within to give thanks. When he was finished, he said to his friend, “Ok, I’m back,” and proceeded to eat ravishingly.
At the time, it made a deep impression on me. Wow. My judgement (previously unbeknownst to me but revealed then) was that this young man was disconnected from his immediate surroundings, just barely making it to the gate in time to catch his flight, preparing to gobble his food down with no awareness of the people around him. And, yet, here he was present enough to recognise that he was being given sustenance, even in the form of airport take-away food. My judgement flared into view.
A few minutes later we were instructed to get in line according to our priority boarding. He ended up in a parallel line to me so I was able to unobtrusively continue to observe him. He started a conversation with the people in line with him and I found him to be engaged, interested and interesting, and sincere in his expression of wonder and appreciation of the people he was talking with. As we boarded the flight I found myself thinking, or perhaps at this point I was still pondering, on this guy and particularly my judgement. I knew his innate practise of giving thanks for his food had touched my heart but it quickly became obscured by my judgement being revealed to me and off I went into my mind.
The flight from Phoenix took me to LAX to connect with my international flight back home to Australia. I had allowed plenty of time in between my connecting flights and I had been in and out of LAX airport so much in recent years, I knew there was a good fresh, whole food restaurant, once I got through security. I headed there and bought my meal. As I stood looking for a place to eat, a family vacated a larger table and I pulled a chair up to the corner to eat my salad. A few minutes later a woman, dressed in a traditional Middle Eastern outfit, approached me and asked if I minded if she shared my table. As she settled in we exchanged some typical airport small talk and then she said, “Excuse me for a moment.” Much to my surprise, she proceeded to give thanks for her food. I returned to my book. Needless to say, this brought back my experience of only a few hours earlier in a different airport.
I haven’t actually been around or even observed anyone ‘giving thanks’ for their food in a long time. I suppose it is the fast-paced nature of society that no longer accommodates that pause-moment. For those of us living in first world countries, perhaps we also just take the next meal for granted. How many of you actually ever experienced real hunger? I mean I’m always grateful that I’ve never had to go to bed hungry. I always appreciate that I have easy access to good healthy whole food. But I never take that pause-moment to give thanks for what I am about to receive. And now here I was, constellated with two people who had the awareness and took the time even while transiting through airports to pause and give thanks for their food.
I thought at the time, this is a practice I want to bring into my life. But then I boarded the plane for a thirteen-hour flight to Australia in which neither meal I received had anything edible in it! I had ordered vegan and gluten free but alas, that was just too much for them to accommodate. So, it didn’t even occur to me to give thanks. Haha
And then this morning, ten days after returning home, as I was eating my favourite breakfast, poached eggs on a bed of kale, complete with turmeric and black pepper, I remembered both of these people who I had encountered while travelling. I stopped and gave thanks for the delicious, healthy, nutritious meal I had before me. In acknowledging the food I was about to eat, I understood that I was giving thanks as well as asking that the food would nourish my body and my soul.
As I write this blog, I am wondering if it is a practice I can, or rather if I will, establish for myself, not for show, but as a brief moment of inner awareness, of giving thanks for what I am about to receive and in doing so, perhaps increasing the nutritional value.
For further contemplation about food, you may find this article about hidden attitudes towards food interesting.
31/1/2019 09:27:43 pm
Great thought provoking blog thank you - not only give thanks but to eat slowly and savour every mouthful.
1/2/2019 12:09:24 pm
Yes, I agree. Eating slowly feels meditative. When eating with others, I find myself always easting faster than I would like to because I am not wanting to finish too long after the others. Hmmm. I'll add that to things to change this year!
1/2/2019 07:23:19 am
Receiving a message twice in one day certainly encourages us to ponder more deeply on its true meaning for us. I like how the message stayed with you Gayle and that you have now shared it with us - it is a deeply thought provoking (as Carmel expressed) message. If we all go deeper with why do we need to eat -- is it to nurture and therefore it is worthy of giving thanks -- or is it to eat just for comfort and therefore there is little incentive to give thanks another message to ponder on. . . .
1/2/2019 12:12:25 pm
Thanks for your comment Ruth. It brought to mind a discussion I had with someone the other day and they were saying that we don't need to buy 'organic' food because if we are living the true Love and Light that we are, our bodies energetically are not going to cling on to any contamination in the food we are consuming but will instead pull out the nutrients that our body is needing. So much to think on - about food.
1/2/2019 04:07:20 pm
This was something that I did for many years and then slowly over time forgot more and more until I eventually ceased this little ritual. Thank you for bringing it back to my awareness. For me it was also a stop and take a breath moment before I started to eat and to just appreciate what I have and not just the food that is in front of me.
3/2/2019 07:37:29 pm
Thank you for your comment Annie. Here it is several days since I wrote the blog and I'm finding that I still forget to pause, take that breath, and give thanks for the meal I'm about to eat. I've gone so many years without giving thanks for my meal, I am still wondering if I will be able to establish the habit this late in life.
1/2/2019 06:15:03 pm
Interesting blog Gayle, it brought back memories from my childhood where we too gave thanks for our food, and waited for a nod from dad or mum before we were able to start eating our meal.
4/2/2019 11:59:16 am
Yes Gayle, it definately is a practice of the past but since reading your blog it made me conscious of how much i appreciate my nourishing food and will re-introduce this practice but in a different quality.
3/2/2019 07:40:01 pm
Hello Lotti - From the way you've written your comment, I take it that it is something from your past and not a current practice. It started me pondering on how many things from our past we have deliberately done away with, trying to make a fresh start for ourselves. Gosh, I think I feel another blog coming on. haha
8/2/2019 01:45:39 pm
Wow, I love this blog Gayle. I love the practice of giving thanks before we start eating our food. On the super rare occasions when I do this I think to myself, why don't I do this all the time? Your blog has encouraged me to get back into the practice.
8/2/2019 07:23:43 pm
I'm surprised and a little saddened to discover how difficult it is to remember to give thanks BEFORE eating. Its a work in progress. At the moment I seem to be giving thanks for what I have just finished eating!
17/2/2019 07:09:20 pm
This is a great reminder to give thanks for our food, thank you for sharing Gayle
19/2/2019 06:05:08 am
Love this blog Gayle, It has brought back memories of how we used to often give thanks for our main meal of the day and also when I was in infants school we used to sing a little song each day before lunch thanking for the food we eat. I also had a friend from overseas staying with me for over a month many years ago and this blog reminded me how before every meal he would always allow enough time to silently gives thanks for his meal. It is a beautiful practice and I am glad that you have brought this back for me to be aware of and perhaps to incorporate into my daily rituals.
24/2/2019 07:09:16 am
Hi Deidre - You can remember infants school? Wow. Thanks for your comment. It is now a month since I wrote this blog and I'm still working on trying to remember to give thanks BEFORE eating. I hope to get there yet!
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Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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