Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Ritual of Taking Nourishment

I have a nice sturdy folding table that F. used to do art projects on when he was here. After he wasn't here anymore—18 months ago—I folded it up and put it behind my bicycle in the kitchen and continued to eat either with my plate perched on my lap or standing up while washing dishes or whatever.

I have had an eating disorder nearly all my life and, as an adult, have most often dealt with it by keeping strict control most of the time and overeating outrageously (i.e., bingeing) the rest of the time, as when dining out. A couple of years ago, I decided at least not to read while eating, and very recently, I decided not to listen to the radio, either. If I supposedly enjoy this activity so much that it seems like something I could never give up, odd that I can't bring myself to pay full attention to it. I also was inspired by my recent visit to Naima at her hospital, when she talked about how grasping and aversion lead to suffering.

If that is true, then eating an entire pizza, which I have done many, many times, is not an experience of freedom but one of bondage. It seems like an activity I would be bereft without, but maybe the reverse is true.

I also have been thinking about trauma stewardship. My job comes with built-in stress and trauma, and I can easily see occasional outrageous overeating becoming daily outrageous overeating. I don't have anything against fat people, which adjective I use in its descriptive function, not pejorative. It is not fun to be fat in this society. Those who are have my sympathy and understanding. I have been fat. But I don't want to be the sad 400-pound chaplain who eats a whole pizza after every shift.

My eye fell on that table, which I had thought of as F.'s table. "You know, this is actually my table," I said to myself, and I hauled it out from behind the bicycle and set it up in the kitchen. It's larger than I need for eating, so at first I was using the far side of it as a repository for random objects, but after a while, I decided that while it was nice to have a place to put stuff, a beautiful spot for eating was more important.

I also designed a ritual, which goes this way. I turn off the radio, which has been on while I prepare food. I put a place mat on the table, along with food and drink and a napkin. I light a candle. I announce out loud, "The Ritual of Taking Nourishment." I sit down and say this prayer before eating:

I offer thanks to all those whose hard work went into making this food appear in front of me. I offer thanks to Mother Nature, who made this elephant and everything else! May I eat this food with gratitude and appreciation. May it nourish and delight me. May all beings have fresh food and clean water. May all beings have secure shelter and excellent medical care. May all beings feel loved and cherished. May all beings be nourished and delighted.

Hammett is vigorously discouraged from sitting on the table while it's being used for eating, so he often makes a point of sitting on it right afterward, just to remind me that I'm not the boss of him.

1 comment:

lisajean1015 said...

What a beautiful, generous post, Commodore!