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an everyday ritual

Many of us have stood in bookstores flipping through pages seeking words of wisdom. We have listened to inspirational teachers and spoken with others about our own quest... searching for that 'little extra something'  to bring joy, love, a sense of purpose or whatever it is we are wanting into our lives...

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, 'Love begins at home. It  is not how much we do, but how much love we bring into what we do.'

What a simple yet extraordinary realisation and opportunity to bring richness into our daily lives... right now... in our homes.

a very ordinary yet potentially powerful ritual that occurs everyday... is our meal time

That time where we nourish our bodies with food... breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, morning cuppa, barbeques, picnic’s, pizza nights, pot luck, marshmallows over the fire, pancakes on Sunday, mum’s special casserole, freshly baked loaf, toast and hot butter, home made jam…at home, on the beach, in the park, by the river, at aunty Jane’s, in the kitchen, on the deck, in the dining room…on your own, the three of us, a group of three score and ten … dress up or come as you are…

We are truly blesssed that food is a part of our daily lives. It can appear to be such an ordinary event yet a meal can be so much more than just a physical feed. The atmosphere and rituals that we can create at a meal time can be remembered for a lifetime.

Most people would agree that the relationship with their family and friends is their highest priority. There are a few simple ideas here that can make meal times a rich and long term investment in the quality of our home and community life deepening our love for friends and family.

A shared meal can offer so much... it can:
  • Keep us connected to the people who matter most in our lives
  • Give us a sense of belonging
  • Pass on family values and beliefs
  • Teach us the art of conversation, listening and sharing
  • Honour our family roots
  • Make us laugh and relax
  • Give us a sense of rhythm, continuity and stability
  • Provide a safe and sacred space
  • Brings us together to cooperate in preparing the food, serving and cleaning up afterwards
  • Teach us about looking after ourselves and each other
  • Embrace a friend or neighbour who may need company
  • Be a lot of fun
We can always make lots of excuses for not sitting down to a meal together…
  • We just don’t get on…
  • We’re never home together…
  • I live on my own…
  • I can’t cook…
  • We don’t have kids…
  • I end up doing all the preparation and cleaning…
  • My favourite TV show is on…
  • We have sport training…
A simple yet powerful ritual of sharing meals may call for a change of lifestyle or approach… and it’s worth it, no matter our age or stage of life.

Whether you are a 'foodie' or not, sharing a meal can provide an opportunity to welcome into our lives a sense of being loved, belonging and sharing a connection that goes deeper than words can say.

The meals don’t have to be gourmet or perfect, they don’t have to be done a certain way… but to spend time together, listen to each others stories, give a prayer of thanks or to express gratitude for the gift of food and each other is a true blessing. Our family have great times in the kitchen cooking up a storm all pitching in to create a feast and simple celebration. Before we start eating, everyone is seated and we hold hands. (my son used to groan when he was a teenager but we got through that period ok!) Sometimes we just pause and bless the food, other times we acknowledge and welcome guests who are present, sometimes we applaud an accomplishment or offer support for an upcoming event. We have always kept it short but heartfelt... and occasionally silly!

Having been the guest in many homes over the last two months I have noticed a difference between those families that just commence eating when the plate is placed before them and when we all wait until everyone is seated. It is far more relaxed and connected when there is that pause before starting.

I am currently staying with my family and two beautiful grand daughters in Bristol, England. Sharing time with Isabel in the kitchen cooking a banana cake was so much fun and then eating it together when daddy got home such a treat. Rituals in the kitchen can be lots of fun!

Here's just a few ideas that may inspire...
  • Allow plenty of time for a meal
  • Turn off the TV, computer and phone
  • Get everyone involved in the menu, preparation, setting the table and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Be creative and have dinner outside occasionally or change the table setting or menu
  • Share a prayer or blessing of thanksgiving. It doesn't have to be complicated. Holding hands and saying ‘blessings on the food' or 'yum, yum, yum, thanks from the tum'. (it may feel awkward the first few times you do this but your family will relax the more it becomes part of the daily ritual - and have a big smile on your face as you say it!). Just taking a moment to stop and give thanks brings everyone's awareness to the blessing of having food and companionship.
  • Listen to each other ensuring that everyone has a turn to speak
  • Affirm qualities and behaviours – avoid criticism or improving behaviours at this time
  • Choose a topic to discuss – What’s one thing you are grateful for? What’s the best thing that happened today?
  • Choose times for meals where most family members can come
  • Invite rather than demand attendance!
  • Be patient and persevere with creating ‘family meal times’
  • If you are living alone organise with other friends to share meals regularly
  • Enjoy a tea party with your children after school (make it healthy so they enjoy good food from an early age)
  • Take a family walk after dinner or share a story
  • Organise ‘progressive dinner parties’ in the street or group you belong to
  • Hold regular morning teas
  • Organise pot luck dinners where everyone brings a plate and that takes the stress out of always preparing food for gatherings at your home
I invite you to take the time to make meal times, ordinary yet very powerful ...and enjoy! If you would like to share your special memories of meal times or any further ideas please feel free to email me.
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