Do you worry about what your kids are eating? Or what your own diet is like?
We are currently sharing our home with a delightful two-year-old and her mother, and food plays a significant role in this little girl’s life. She loves goldfish crackers and grapes and yogurt – sometimes all together. She’d probably eat them exclusively day in and day out if she could. But I watch her mother making sure that she eats other foods too, so that she gets all the nutrients she needs.
It’s the same with adults: we have our favourite foods and drinks. One of the delights of summertime for me is being able to get plentiful fresh local vegetables and fruits. Instead of tired, tasteless strawberries that grow year-round in California and get treated with who-knows-what before being transported all the way here, I relish the sweet, juicy ones that have grown just a few kilometres away.
Food nourishes our bodies. But what about our souls? What nourishment are we giving our inner life? What are we filling our hearts and minds with?
For many of us, we exist on a diet of stress, anxiety and busyness, often running on empty and feeling strung out. And we live within a culture that has powerful messages about what to consume, centred around material things – bigger, newer, better. It’s a toxic combination that leads nowhere healthy.
Maybe that’s why a vacation in a cottage or campground feels so good. Suddenly we’re in a place defined by words like simplicity, nature, slowing down, peace. Those evenings spent watching the sun go down and the stars come out are food for the soul. The simpler, fresher meals, the low-tech activities, the family time – they can all be nourishing in a profound way.
But what happens when normal life resumes? I remember the friction building even on our way home from a family summer vacation, as we began getting mentally geared up for the work and school world, with its pressures and complexities. How do you continue to nurture your soul in ordinary time?
In the Christian tradition Jesus describes himself as the bread of life. He uses the familiar symbols of bread and wine to mean himself and his path, and urges his followers to eat and drink of him.
In many churches the eucharist is celebrated regularly with shared bread and wine, recalling those words of Jesus. His followers to this day seek to be nourished by him, through prayer, worship, studying the sacred texts, and serving the needs of the world.
Does that sound a bit too religious for where you are? Then you might want to consider learning to meditate (an ancient form of Christian prayer), joining a study group on a spiritual theme, volunteering, or bringing your kids to a program where they can learn and ask questions.
St. Aidan’s (staidansinthebeach.com), like many local churches, offers opportunities in all of these ways for you to nourish your soul.
Spiritual food isn’t about rules and regulations, or being very religious, or believing certain things. It’s about creating space so that the spirit of God can move within you and nourish you. Taste and see.
Lucy Reid, Incumbent, Church of St. Aidan