Live Today Well!
So incredibly fitting that we're discussing Chapter 6 today, which is entitled: "On Meals: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary." The chapter talks about fasting, and indeed, we are fasting today!
So what do we have by way of inspiration for meals?
"We should not go merely to eat, but to obey God and to take part in shared experience of community with one another."
Here, we read about a two-pronged approach to meals. God created our bodies such that we must eat to survive, thus we are obeying Him by eating. At the same time, a very routine and mandatory part of our day can be used as an opportunity to focus on others, rather than ourselves. We can talk to them and relate to them in their daily journey. If we re-intend our approach to meals in this way, we take an ordinary even, and make it extraordinary. The potential is there, if only we seize it.
On fasting, we learn:
"The practice of denying ourselves in some way at table reminds us that our personal instincts and existential needs do not control our freedom. Instead, we choose to forgo some delectable delight, such as a favorite condiment or a tempting dessert, or even a second helping. In this way, we can exercise a bit of mastery over our senses and thus give priority to the spirit over the flesh."
I love the relatable detail in here. It's very easy to take a second helping when you're really not all that hungry, simply because you are enjoying the food and think you deserve to continue to unwind after a long day. Changing our perspective on how we see meals overall - as an opportunity to focus on the needs of those we are eating with, and an opportunity to deny ourselves in a small way after eating (and enjoying, I think that's important) our food for sustenance - causes us to choose to be conscious of a small way to give back to God.
I like this very balanced approach to fasting. Fasting can be detrimental to one's health for any number of medical reasons, and St. Francis points out that fasting is really about our *attitude* more than anything else. On a day in which you're trying to fast, sacrifice the ketchup on your hamburger that you enjoy so much, or sacrifice having dessert. It's important to have a positive relationship with food. We should enjoy what we eat, but we can also exercise self-control in small ways to make a big difference in our spirit.
What did you all think of the suggestions in this chapter with regards to approach meals and fasting? Next week we turn to our attitudes at work. Oh boy. :0