Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Holy Meals

The hospital had hired a chef to run the cafeteria. When I had an occasion to visit, I stopped in and saw him behind the counter serving people. I asked about a certain entre in front of me and he launched into a passionate description of how he had prepared it. 

“Sounds delicious,” I exclaimed, and he beamed as he heaped a portion on my plate. 

It was delicious—a Mexican dish with chicken, cheese, tortillas, and marvelous spices.  I realized as I was eating that this was the man’s art.  Some people paint or sculpt. Others write. Others perform music. And still others design great buildings. In fact, most people have something in their lives that is their art. 

This man’s art was in his cooking and he was pleased that I recognized it.  And since it pleased him so much, I went back to the serving area after the meal and expounded on how good the meal was. 

It made his day. 

I’ve been thinking about Barbara Brown Taylor’s thoughts in An Altar to the World, where she says that to bless something is to notice and point out its worth--its holiness.  A Mexican dish at the hospital cafeteria may seem like an unlikely item to be recognized as holy, but on the other hand, it was a man’s joyful expression.  What’s holier than that? 

We can take that thought and expand it to other people and the things that they do.  In fact, Taylor says that everywhere we look there is something wonderful even in the ordinary where God has made something with a purpose.  To recognize God’s work (His holiness) in that thing is to bless it. 

I’ve also come to appreciate the efforts of the waitress, the lawyer, the mechanic, and the teacher. Their work, as well as all other work can be brought to an art form and can be used for noble purposes. 

I also appreciate trees and wheat fields and birds and dogs and caterpillars and mountains and blades of grass, all of which have a place in God’s holy creation.

When we express appreciation we help each other remember our holy place in a holy creation.  So at meal time, I remember to offer a blessing, not just for the food, but for the person who made it. 

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