Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 76

FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE - Harper you have the intent for relationships through the sharing. It’s intense in the sense that it’s purposeful instead of catching someone here or there. You’re forced to look at each other. A lot of the conversations and relationship happen around that circumstance. Woman 1: I was thinking about the eye contact, too. It’s different than talking to someone in the car because you can look directly at them. At a dinner table, you’re not just casually moving around. You can’t just walk away and get busy with something else. You have to stay engaged; even if you’re not participating, you’re there and you’re part of it. BH: I laugh at that because when our kids were teenagers, they would so often eat through their meal at a hundred miles an hour and then start to get up and leave the table. Robin would look at them and say, “No!” “But I’m done, Mom.” “I don’t care. We’ve only been here for five minutes. Sit down in your seat and we’re going to talk to each other for longer.” I’m an empty nester now. My kids are all adults and they don’t live in the house. And when they do come back, Robin says, “Do not make plans around dinner time. We are having a family dinner. You are coming to the table. We are going to eat and we are going to talk and share with each other.” That’s the very powerful place. And of course, the dinner table is the place where not only is there laughter and encouragement, but also we as broken human beings say the most painful things to people. It is the place where you can pick up a cup and throw it at your brother across the table instead of saying encouraging things. I think some of the most painful things as well as the most encouraging things I have heard said or I have said myself have been at the dinner table. This is the place of deep, deep human relationality, here at the table. A guy who writes a great book about that is Henri Nouwen. He wrote this book called With Burning Hearts and he talks about living life eucharistically. The whole of living life is built around Eucharist and this table. And he talks about family and family meals. It’s really fabulous. Food is about bringing together people who love each other. But it’s also about bringing together people who are at odds with each other because they both happen at the family table. One of the things that speaks to me is that food should never be used as something that is only for the people that are like us, or that we care about. Food ought to be a place of invitation and generosity to those who aren’t like us, to those who are outside of us. If not, how is the world going to get fed? How is there going to be peace over food? 73