My mother taught me that you should never eat a meal without a placement. She said that it made the meal important and the food taste better.
I'm inclined to agree.
Unfortunately, these days, most of us rush through our meals. We grab something fast, stand up eating, or eat while in the car between errands. The food tastes good, it fills our bellies, but is the experience satisfying?
Mindful eating, savoring our food and offering appreciation for it, from farmer to freezer, is another matter altogether, perhaps even another post.
Consider this however—the dignity imparted by having a real meal all by yourself, complete with placemat. Often, during the course of my day (because I work at home), I do grab goodies to go from the frig, not even a complete meal. I eat while at my computer or, worse, standing in the kitchen.
Then, yesterday, the ethereal voice of my mother chimed in. "Use a placemat." So I did and found the whole process quite enjoyable—setting the table for myself, creating some ambience, and relishing a real meal: "No chicken" chicken noodle soup and a homemade, pumpkin raisin muffin.
I simply ate in the silence, watched, listened. The view outside the window was glorious. With each bite of soup, I admired the leaves shimmering and twirling on their stems. As the warm liquid eased down my throat, golden leaves dropped to the ground. We were in sync, relaxing into our experience of simply being alive and doing what we chose to do in that very moment. Me, eating for life force. The leaves, letting go, to serve as life force for something else.
At the end of my lunch, I was thoroughly sated, not because the food was so delicious, but because my soul was nourished. I felt relaxed and at ease with my life.
All this, because of a placemat. Dignity restored.
“The chief pleasure in eating does not consist in costly seasoning,
or exquisite flavor, but in yourself.”
Horace, Roman poet
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.