At the beginning of my Ignatian Retreat last weekend, I received a folder which included an outline of the retreat and a tip sheet on how to get the most out of our silent time together.
I know from personal experience that silence during meals, when everyone is sitting together, can be a big challenge. It's hard not to ask the person sitting across from you how they are doing, or to pass the salt.
Wisely, those leading the retreat gave us some ideas on how to concentrate on the food we were eating, rather than the people around us. It makes sense, and for the most part, I was able to focus on how blessed I am to be able to have access to good and healthy food each day. Somehow, the food tasted better :) Here's an excerpt from the handout:
Choose an item of food that is on your plate (or in your bowl) and begin to chew it slowly. While chewing, contemplate the many miracles that brought this food to your lips. The farmer who grew the food, the truck driver who brought it, the architect who designed the store where it was purchased, the people who prepared it... Become aware of all the people who made this moment possible, including the parents who gave you life. Recall in gratitude the cooperation of nature: the rain, the sun, the fertile earth... Notice the life-giving miracle that is revealed in this single spoonful of food. Give thanks to God for it and for the enjoyment of its taste at this moment. You will notice that when eaten with gratitude, food begins to develop a deeper and richer flavor... Somehow, it just tastes better.
Friends, we take so many things for granted, don't we? We are blessed to live in a time and place where food is plentiful and for the most part, reasonably priced. This week, let's all be a bit more grateful for the healthy food and the clean water that is available to us.