On Friday, I finely got home in time to watch an episode of Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution”. I absolutely love Jamie’s Food Revolution campaign and have previoulsy posted about his earnest attempts to change the way we eat by changing the way we think.
Well, as we all know, changing the way people think is pretty darn hard, even if the change is good for them, which is why we need people like Jamie, movements like Meatless Mondays, and organizations like Farm Sanctuary. We need these people and organizations to educate and challenge us, to get us thinking about what we eat and why, and to show us how we can make changes that will not only make us healthier, but will also make the world a better place.
Anyway, on Friday’s episode Jamie said something that I thought was an absolute game changer. Jamie was talking to a single father of two boys who wanted to feed his kids better. The family had been living off a diet of fast food because of the convenience it offered. Jamie showed the family what they had literally been consuming by filling their house with the equivalent of the fast food they had eaten over the course of one year (he did it in increments, first showing them what they ate over the course of a week, then a month, then a year). Seeing all those grease laden hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, etc., the father and boys were visibly upset. They realized their hair, skin, muscles, hearts, and brains were made up of fast food — fast food was fueling their bodies and their lives. It was not a pretty sight.
And that’s when Jamie said it, the game changer. Pointing to their kitchen table he said:
“This table is the altar of your home.“
The father and boys got it. It was a powerful statement.
Since early in our prehistory humans have created, revered, and embodied certain objects with special meaning and significance, e.g., Venus Figurines or Pompeii. Whether for religious or secular purposes, humans have and do make shrines and altars and imbue objects with special/sacred meaning. Sometimes we make shrines without really being conscious of it, othertimes there is great purpose in our creation.
I have many small spots (shrines) in my house and my office where I place objects that hold significance for me — I arrange and rearrange these objects — I add and subtract to what’s there depending on what story I am trying to tell — or what feeling I am trying to convey. Sometimes I don’t even realize I am in the act of creating an altar or shrine until it’s done.
Thinking about the table as an altar is a game changer for me. It makes me think in a very different way about meals and mealtime.
Thinking of our table as an altar helps me stay committed to eating with compassion and with an eye to “the sacred” space and objects our table and food represent. It makes me see food as sacred rather than just something to shove in my mouth to satisfy whatever craving I have at the moment.
What about you? Do you have altars/shrines in your home or office? How does thinking about your table as an altar make you think and feel about the food you will be eating and sharing?