Who doesn’t know the desire for a good meal, dished up with love and shared with good company? An acquaintance of mine recently did an informal poll on social media, asking if people minded eating alone. While a few conveyed enthusiasm, most said they preferred eating with friends or family. In my growing years, our dinner table was a sacred place where individual pursuits were put aside in favor of community bonding—thanking the Lord for our blessings, listening and talking, sharing ideas, debating, laughing, and enjoying each other—while savoring our meal. For many Americans, my present self included, life’s rapid pace means that eating is often mindless and solitary. It’s easy to forget that sharing physical nourishment with others has a way of nourishing the spirit as well as the body.
I’ve recently had a small, but persistent, digestive health issue that has made me change my diet and rethink my eating habits. I realized that I, a single lady with a busy housemate, was eating most of my meals alone. I didn’t take time from work to eat with my co-workers, since I don’t get a paid lunch period and didn’t want to make up the lost time. I sometimes go out to a late dinner with my tango group, or occasionally eat out with friends, but I realized that most of the time, eating had become a perfunctory action for me. Yes, I cooked nutritious food, but I ate it in a mindless way, usually as I prepared to run out the door to an evening activity. So I started making efforts to eat lunch with my coworkers. I organized a community potluck in the park. I sometimes call a family member while cooking or eating. Now, in addition to making more effort to connect with others over meals, I am more mindful about giving thanks, chewing well, breathing deeply, enjoying the flavor, and not overeating.
Continue reading Food for Thought
Last week my women’s choir recommenced after its usual nine-month hiatus. Our director Emily is young, energetic, and somewhat silly (she usually directs children’s choirs). In spite of her light-hearted humor, she demands our best—not only as individuals, but as a cohesive group. Her choral warm-ups train our ears as well as our voices. With up to six voice parts, each woman’s voice has a unique range and quality, yet our aim is to train them so that each contributes to a harmonious sound—without overpowering the rest. What allows us to create the most pleasing, unified sound? Our director. We all look to her for tempo, volume, and expression. When each of us learns the music, listens to our neighbors, and follows Emily’s direction, we can enjoy the wonderful sensation of contributing to a beautiful whole greater than ourselves.
Continue reading Harmony of the Unique
Have you ever had a moment when your life felt like a plane taking a nosedive? That nothing short of a miracle could save you from disaster? Perhaps you had a tough decision looming and couldn’t make up your mind; didn’t get the job opportunity or housing situation or scholarship that you had thought was the answer to your prayers; or felt that you messed up a relationship for good and life could never be the same.
Looking back on these moments in my life, I see that the crash never came – that oftentimes my life took a positive turn in a new, hitherto unimagined direction. It is hard to see this in the moment, though: uncertainty (i.e. lack of control) can be frightening. It can lead to hopelessness and apathy, or it can lead to a crippling effort to control the uncontrollable. When embraced in a healthy way, uncertainty does something entirely different: it enlivens and excites, and yes, it even offers a sense of freedom. Continue reading Embracing Uncertainty on Life’s Dance Floor