Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Spirit of Food



I was amazed when I went to the table of contents of The Spirit of Food and found the following names:

~ Ann Voskamp
~ Lauren Winner
~ Robert Farrar Capon
~ Wendell Berry
~ Alexander Schmemann
~ Luci Shaw
~ Andre Dubus

What a collection of literary friends, all in one place!

From the back cover: "You are invited to a feast for the senses and the spirit! Thirty-four adventurous writers...all bring a keen eye and palette to the larger questions of the role of food - both its presence and its absence - in the life of our bodies and spirits."


Gems from its pages:

"...this offering to God of bread and wine, of the food that we must eat in order to live, is our offering to him of ourselves, of our life and of the whole world...It is our Eucharist. It is the movement that Adam failed to perform, and that in Christ has become the very life of man: a movement of adoration and praise in which all joy and suffering, all beauty and all frustration, all hunger and all satisfaction are referred to their ultimate End and become finally meaningful. Yes, to be sure, it is a sacrifice but sacrifice is the most natural act of man, the very essence of his life." Alexander Schmemann


"On Sunday morning as I watch my priest lay the Communion table for the gathered believers, I remember why eating attentively is worth all the effort: the table is not only a place where we can become present to God. The table is also a place where he becomes present to us." Lauren Winner


"In Little Lent, the Orthodox abstain from meat and dairy for four weeks before the feast of Christmas. She prepared all of her usual foods in their simplest forms: borscht with vegetable broth instead of pork, salads with oil instead of mayonnaise and sausage. She practiced this as a quiet reminder that she was preparing body and soul for Christmas.

The body and soul formation was not something that I had ever taken seriously. As a lifelong, devout Protestant, I had thought a great deal about my soul. As an American, I had obsessed a great deal about my body. But I had rarely considered body and soul in mutual relation. Everywhere I went in Russia as an exchange student - and I was drawn instinctively to churches - I witnessed a fuller understanding of the body and soul in communion. "Sometimes if I cannot pray," Olga had said at the entrance to the cathedral, "I come to the church and light a candle."

At that time, I would have called Olga's gesture an empty ritual. I might have considered an inability to pray a personal failing, and I wouldn't have thought it could be remedied or substituted by lighting a candle. But Olga allowed this bodily action to stand in the place where her mind and heart might lag, and I found the possibility moving." Amy Frykholm


Some of the essays come from favorite books of mine:
Mudhouse Sabbath (Lauren Winner)
Supper of the Lamb (Robert Farrar Capon)
What Are People For? (Wendell Berry)
For the Life of the World (Alexander Schmemann)

After the flurry of Thanksgiving hoopla has settled down to a weekend at home, to hours of sipping hot toddies and slowly but surely decorating our Christmas tree, I am hoping to read more. What beautiful writing.

For now I know enough to say: Highly recommended!

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