Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Mealtime Magic: Nourishing Both Body and Spirit"


Diann and Jodie (pictured above at the conference) spoke about creating mealtime magic in your home, a time when you nourish body and spirit. When I first asked Diann to speak about this, she was reluctant. She said that dinner was a rushed affair at their home, with each person grabbing a bite to eat and fleeing out the door to various activities. So I asked her to think about their breakfast times, which is when they do their devotional for the day. I think many families relate to having meals eaten separately, but hopefully you can have at least one meal a day, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, when you are all together. There is such a protective power in sharing a meal together. You can share ideas too and these ideas sink into your children's spirits, so that they have a well of spiritual fortitude to draw on during tough times. Children who regularly eat with their families, usually dinner, are less likely to get into drugs, alcohol, and other addictive things.

Diann commented that to make mealtime memorable, it is good to draw upon the connection that happens during a baby's mealtime of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding allows a connection of both body and spirit of mom and baby. That's an example for us to follow.

A quote from Babette's Feast, a foreign film that I saw in my BYU days at the International Cinema, illuminates this idea of the power of mealtime. "She could transform a dinner into a kind of love affair; an affair that made no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite." That is what I aspire to. Not every mealtime is a winner at my house. Sometimes I burn the food or I reach for the canned soup or we have lackluster conversation, but more often than not I think I hit the mark.

A tree gives food, and shelter and protection. A Tree of Life Mother can give food, and more with mealtime. She can give food for thought that nourishes and protects, and food that protects the body, if it's full of nutrients. I so appreciate the ideas Diann and Jodie presented to make mealtime a time of connection. The ideas from Jonell Francis' cookbook have helped me to fall in love again (it's something mothers get to fall in love with again and again) with preparing nutritious, satisfying food for my family. Some recent talks/articles by LDS church leaders have referred to the power of mealtime. See Sister Julie Beck's talk “Powerful Nurturing,” in the Ensign, December 2005, p. 36 and the mention of mealtime in the Worldwide Leadership Training under the heading "Come and Dine" from 2008. I have excerpted as follows:

“Come and Dine”

Elder Holland said, "In the true spirit of homemaking, in the best and highest sense of that word, I hope we can again sit down at a common dinner table as a family. I think almost any sociologist who has no affiliation with the Church at all would say, and they do say, that perhaps nothing is as unifying in the course of a family’s week as to eat together"

Then Sister Beck stated, "A scriptural example that is one of my favorites, is in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, where the Savior at the Sea of Galilee gathered His disciples. He had a fire there and coals and fish, and He said, 'Come and dine.' Now, that describes quite a bit of preparation. A meal had been prepared—a family meal, you could say—and He invited them to come and dine, not just run in and eat, but come and dine. And then the scripture says, 'When they had dined,' He then began to teach them that wonderful teaching about feeding His sheep (see John 21:9–15). There is something about eating together and mellowing out and having that feeling there. What would His teaching have looked like if He hadn’t prepared the place to teach it? He created the setting for that marvelous teaching, and it was a mealtime. And I think that wasn’t accidental." (end of excerpt from 2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting for LDS Church.)

The joy of hearing one of my children say, "Oh I love this! Thanks for fixing it mom!" of "This tastes so good," and the feeling of connection that comes from digging into something yummy as we discuss something yummy as well gives me a taste fo the fruit of the tree of life daily.

(As a postscript, most people know Diann because of her involvement in the Thomas Jefferson Education--TJED--community, as a coauthor with Oliver DeMille and Rachel DeMille and founder of the annual TJED Forum. But most people don't know that years ago, she trained to become a La Leche League Leader. So she has been involved in the natural mothering movement both as a breastfeeding advocate and as a proponent of attachment parenting and natural, real foods. Jodie has been the president of the Midwives College of Utah, so she is very involved with the natural birth movement in Utah.)

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