This Christmas OLIH gave away copies of the book The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet by Emily Stimpson Chapman.  Now let us read the book together!

What was I thinking as I chose this book? Over the summer, I offered a running group in July, we gathered on Friday mornings in the wee hours and went for a run, and then we came back to OLIH for some conversation about the spirituality of running and a light breakfast.  During the week I blogged about a book I was reading to help us focus on various aspects of spirituality and running.  It was a great way to bring faith into our habit/routines of running or walking.  As the summer progressed I contemplated what else could we do? Could we offer a similar thing in January with a focus on food? Everyone eats –so food and spirituality would be a perfect focus! Therefore, off I went searching for a book on spirituality and food.  In my searching, I stumbled onto The Catholic Table and found it to be a wonderful read!  The next question was how do I implement this… making a long story short we chose to give this book for Christmas this year and encourage the whole parish to read it in January, follow the blog and join us at any and every event that includes food – and we added a few food focused activities too!  I love tying together food and faith because both of these things bring us together around a table, opens our hearts and nourishes our bodies and minds. 

Over a year ago I started to run – well, when I first started I’m not sure anyone would have called it running, but I was out there moving – and as I grew in my running I started to notice some things, especially how my body felt.  I started to pay attention to how my body felt after a run and how that connected to the food I consumed in the last 24 hours.  That made me start to make some serious changes to my eating habits – no special diets, no cutting out anything all together, but just a listening to my body and responding.  It was good!  I then started to notice even on non-run days how my body responded to foods and by listening to my body I have continued to adjust what I consume.  I am more intentional about what I do eat, and yes sometimes I know that I am going to regret this meal later when I’m running, but I also don’t want to deny myself simple pleasures or an enjoyable meal with friends or family either.  I don’t want food to control me, but I need to listen to my body!  In the last 15 months, I have lost over 40 pounds and am feeling great!  As I continue to run and make healthier food choices I do not feel guilty about eating or enjoying something, but I also make sure that when I eat I am hungry and that I’m not just eating to fill a void that food is not going to fill.

Another reason this book speaks to me is that I believe in the art of eating together at the table.  As a child we ate dinner together every night as a family.  This wasn’t just a nice thing to do, but a wonderful time of teaching moments and creating memories!  My family still doesn’t let me live down the fact that as a child when I wanted seconds I would tap the pan or bowl with my utensil and ask for “more chicken please” regardless of what was being served that night.  I also once – JUST ONCE – ate sauerkraut and hard-boiled eggs together and loved it!  So now whenever mom makes her sauerkraut dish, hard-boiled eggs are made available also!  Memories are created at the table and memories are shared at the table.  Eating together opens doors to conversation and family life in ways that nothing else can.  The last two years I have done a parent night for second grade parents where I compare the family dinner table to the altar.  The stories and food of our family table nourishes our bodies and minds while the scripture stories and spiritual food offered at the altar give us spiritual nourishment. 

One final thought. I said earlier that everyone eats so focusing on food is good, but what if we stopped to consider all those who do not have enough to eat, who don’t have food for their tables tonight? As we fill our pantries and freezers do we stop to think about those who can’t? Take time to watch the bulletin for some Social Justice and Food connections to be made. AMOS did a needs assessment of Ankeny and will be sharing with you some of the facts they found regarding hunger here in Ankeny. Food is a basic part of our daily life, yet so many in our world, in our country, even in our town are hungry today because they don’t have the means to feed themselves or their family. 

Starting Thursday I will be reading 2 chapters of the book a week and blogging on them (Thursdays and Mondays), join the conversation and share your thoughts, reflections, and maybe even your favorite dishes!  Now letting start reading….