Most days, I eat lunch by myself. At a desk in front of a laptop. Or on park bench. Or (confession time…) in my car.
Most days, my lunch resembles the meals I make for my toddler and preschooler: almond butter sandwiches, cheese sticks, carrots, hummus. Sure, I read the blogs and admire the pinterest posts of meal-prep salads in a jar or kale and quinoa bowls that last the week. But let’s be real: ain’t nobody got time for that.
I’m grateful to have food to eat--it’s a privilege to choose between kale and almond butter, quinoa and carrots. Food security is a gift I try not to take for granted.
Food, at its core, nourishes our bodies. But it also nourishes our souls, particularly when we can share a meal with others. I have a hunch I’m not alone in eating many meals alone.
Jesus knew the power of the table, of a shared meal. He was always eating, with prostitutes and tax collectors, in private homes and among crowds of thousands. He usually ate with folks nobody else wanted to eat with. He told stories about making a place for servants and beggers, lepers and thieves at the table. Women sat at his feet to learn after a nourishing dinner. He said: If someone is hungry and you give her something to eat, you are feeding me.
Jesus rarely ate alone. And he made sure others didn’t either. He knows that food is nourishing for the body and a basic necessity EVERYONE deserves. But he also knows that food is nourishing for the soul and the spirit at the same time.
When we eat with others--the food tastes better (even almond butter sandwiches!), our connections grow deeper, and our walls come down.
I once had the privilege of attending a workshop with John Bell of the Iona community in Scotland (link) and he said: why do we always picture Jesus as a skinny man? He’s always eating!
There is a lot of hunger in the world--for food, for love, for peace, for security, for community, for safety, for shelter, for justice, for home.
I don’t pretend to have the answers to the overwhelming needs around us. And I know that the potential to eat, period, and the choice about what that is and where and when we can access it is an immense privilege.
But I do wonder that if one small step is to follow in Jesus’ steps and eat with others. Early. Often. Sharing a cheese stick on a park bench or cooking a feast in our homes. Lingering. Inviting those we wouldn’t normally have at our table. It’s intimidating. And not entirely practical. And, I believe, life-changing, life-saving. So I’m gonna try. And see what happens...